Victory in Malaysia promotes Van Eerde into championship lead
Aussie teenager Billy Van Eerde took a second place in the opening 13-lap Asia Talent Cup race at Sepang on Saturday, then went one better on Sunday with a nail-biting victory where only 0.012 of a second separated first from second place.
Billy used some quick thinking racecraft heading into the final turn to give him the best run to the line that allowed him to out drag Japan’s Sho Nishimura and Haruki Noguchi to the chequered flag.
Billy Van Eerde
“It was a great race, even hotter than yesterday so very challenging. Sho and Noguchi were on the left side of the track and they may have even touched, and I knew one of them would try and go under the other into the corner, so I decided to go to the outside and try and get a run to the line, just made it, but I won so am pretty happy. Great race, but I had to pull Noguchi in to get up to them.
That win has promoted Van Eerde into the Asia Talent Cup Championship lead with 115 points to Noguchi’s 111. Importantly it is Noguchi’s second season of Asia Talent Cup while this is 16-year-old Billy’s first crack at it.
Billy Van Eerde
“It is cool to be the leader at the moment, but three rounds still to go so just try to keep being consistent and see what we can do in Thailand, Japan and then back here again.”
The series now heads into an extended break before they race alongside the MotoGP event at Buriram during the first weekend of October. The penultimate round is at Motegi two weeks later before the finale back at Sepang on the first weekend of November.
Between then though Billy will be back in the thick of things in Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup rounds. While Asia Talent Cup is raced on Honda machinery the Rookies run on KTM. This result in Malaysia will certainly give young Billy more bounce in his step as he returns to Europe and Austria’s Red Bull Ring for the fifth round of that intense series on the weekend of August 12.
Asia Talent Cup Championship Standings
Billy Van Eerde AUS 115
Haruki Noguchi JPN 111
Mario Aji INA 85
Sho Nishimura JPN 62
Danial Sharil MAL 61
Afridza Munandar INA 48
Toshiki Senda JPN 42
Agung Fachrul INA 38
Kopchai Sae-Liw THA 37
Tatchakorn Buarsi THA 36
Ibrahim Pawi MAL 26
Lucky Hendriansya INA 25
Adenanta Putra INA 24
Warit Thongnoppakun THA 23
Senna Agius AUS 20
Koji Hirama JPN 18
Takuma Matsuyama JPN 18
Shota Kiuchi JPN 15
Troy Alberto PHI 11
Naoki Yamada JPN 10
Nitipong Saengsawang THA 9
Ben Baker AUS 2
Asia Talent Cup Race Two Report
Danial Sharil got the holeshot from pole and Noguchi was quick to strike back on Lap 1, but the Malaysian hit back. As the pack settled in after the start, however, it was a lead trio who began to break away: Takuma Matsuyama, Haruki Noguchi and Billy van Eerde – and Matsuyama from the back of the grid after an incredible start.
With nine laps to go, Noguchi was back in the lead and starting to seem capable of breaking away for a decisive win, with Matsuyama and van Eerde on the chase. Afridza Munandar was leading the second group – but then drama struck for the second day running and the Indonesian headed off into the gravel, unable to get back in the race.
Van Eerde then began to pull the pin, getting clear of Matsuyama and reeling in Noguchi. The Australian cut down a nearly two second gap and by three laps to go was right on the tail of the number 9 in the lead.
He struck down the start-finish straight but Noguchi hit back soon after as Sho Nishimura passed Matsuyama and was then able to start closing in on the duel for the lead – on the scene soon after.
Nishimura then attacked van Eerde and as the two dueled, Noguchi was able to start making a gap at the front. But as the last lap dawned the three-way battle closed up again, and van Eerde was able to get through to lead the trio over the line for the final showdown – with the group covered by just a tenth.
Nishimura was the first to strike but Noguchi then made his move at Turn 4. As the corners ticked down and the three stayed glued together, it looked like it could all go down to the wire – and that it did.
Noguchi was first attacked by Nishimura as they headed into the final chicane and the move put him up into second but the race wasn’t over.
Van Eerde, coming from third, then also overtook Noguchi – slotting into second and the slipstream behind Nishimura. By the line the Australian was just able to edge it by thousandths – taking his second Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup win and the Championship lead.
Nishimura just missed out to take P2, with Noguchi then shuffled back to third and now second in the standings after a tough weekend for the early dominant force in the Cup.
Takuma Matsuyama took a lonely fourth by the flag but after his incredible performance moving through from the back of the grid, with the top five completed by compatriot Koji Hirama as he out-dueled Danial Sharil and just edged the home hero at the line. Toshiki Senda took seventh, with the top ten completed by another down-to-the-wire fight that saw Kopchai Sae-Liw edge Race 1 winner Mario Aji and Tachakorn Buarsi.
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