The Asia Talent Cup returned to action on Sunday in Qatar for Race 2 of the weekend, where Amon Odaki stamped his authority across the track, collecting his maiden win and the lead into Round 2.
Behind the number 14, it was a sprint to the line as a group slipstreamed to the flag if not as closely run as Race 1, with wildcard and local hero Hamad al-Sahouti taking second ahead of Veda Ega Pratama of Indonesia in third.
It was a better Sunday for the Aussies who on Saturday suffered DNFs through no fault of their own. On Saturday both Marianos Nikolis and Carter Thompson were taken out in separate incidents which left Cameron Swain as the last standing Aussie to come home 11th.
On Sunday Carter Thompson was in the hectic lead group for the entire race, crossing the line in seventh but only two-seconds behind the race winner. Nikolis spent the race tussling in the second group, eventually crossing the line at the flag for tenth, but a further 20-seconds behind Thompson. Class debutante Cameron Swain scored a 16th place finish to be just out of the points, a further 29-seconds behind Nikolis.
Asia Talent Cup Race 2 Full Video
Sunday Race Report
Off the line, Odaki got a better start than Race 1 but didn’t quite keep the holeshot, with Malaysian Hakim Danish scything through to lead. As ever, it remained a group battle at the front though, with nine riders able to break away and fight it out.
As the laps ticked down, Carter Thompson, seemingly feeling the effects of the incident that saw him taken down on Saturday, started to fade slightly, and at the front it was Odaki vs Pratama and, lap by lap, al-Sahouti on the move. The Qatari rider put in a few fastest laps over the line, and the scene was set for a showdown to the wire.
That we got, but it didn’t include Odaki. The Japanese rookie was leading when Pratama, tucked in behind, suffered a huge moment – and pulled off an incredible save.
The Indonesian stayed on but was shuffled back in the group, and in the wake of the incident a gap opened up between Odaki and the chasing pack.
The number 14 needed no extra invitation and kept the pedal to the metal to take his first ATC win in style, crossing the line with some breathing space.
Behind him, it was a slipstream showdown won by al-Sahouti as the wildcard took second and his first podium. Pratama, despite having dropped back after his moment, completed the podium.
Gun Mie was denied a trip to the podium by hundredths as he took P4, with Danish completing the top five.
Another tenth back, Race 1 winner Ezawa took P6, with Thompson getting back in the mix to take seventh. Jakkreephat Phuettisan was mere hundredths off the Australian and took P8 in Race 2.
“Was happy to come away with some solid points. Wasn’t the easiest of weekends but off to Indonesia now, hopefully improve on that.”
Rei Wakamatsu, after some more solid pace in the latter stages of the race, was given a Long Lap for track limits that he didn’t have time to take, so the number 2 was given a time penalty and was classified ninth.
The top ten was completed by Marianos Nikolis who bounced back from the crash in Race 1 and was thankful that no one was injured, as the Australian headed a close group of five riders battling for P10.
“Quite happy with this result it’s has been a quite eventful hard weekend so to finish a race and collect points is good. I pushed as hard as I could anymore I think would of seen me with a DNF. I learned a lot and taking away Some valuable knowledge which I want to apply in the next 2 weeks in Indonesia. Thank you to Diago Renne and Ada for all your help.”
Cameron Swain meanwhile, the third Australian contender finished in 16th.
That’s a wrap on Round 1! Two great races at Lusail have started the season, and now the ATC heads to Indonesia to take on Mandalika.
Amon Odaki will take the lead into Round 2 on 41-points, with Shinya Ezawa on 35 and Hamad Al-Sahouti third on 33-points, tied with Gun Mire, also 33.
Aussie Carter Thompson sits 12th on the points table after suffering that race one DNF. Marianos Nikolis is 14th on six points, with Cameron Swain 15th with five points from his efforts on Saturday.
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