Reid Battye joins Thailand Asia Talent Cup Test ahead of season opener
Before the grid line up for that first battle of the year as part of the Thai Round of WorldSBK, Buriram hosted two days of testing from March 5th-6th.
With some new faces joining the ranks as Champions and previous protagonists such as Ayumu Sasaki continue to make their way down the Road to MotoGP, the 22-strong rider field have as clear a goal as ever with the Cup – making it onto the world stage.
This year there are participants from eight different countries across Asia and Oceania, and Japan is the most prolific country on the entry list with eight representatives.
Malaysia, Turkey, the Philippines, Australia and the host nation for the test and first race weekend, Thailand, are the other countries lining up in 2017 – another incredible cross section of talent as the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup continues its mission to find the best young riders from this part of the world.
There’s an incredible host of new faces for this season, including Australian Reid Battye and Thai rider Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi – representing his country with big boots to fill as reigning Champion Somkiat Chantra graduates from the Cup.
Those back for another year include Japanese youngsters Ryusei Yamanka and Yuki Kunii, as well as Indonesian Irfan Ardiansyah and Turkey’s Can Alexsander Öncü and Deniz Oncu – looking to build on 2016 and attack the new season from the off.
Two days of testing at Buriram give much of the grid their first contact with the competition and the track – and allow those returning to the field some time to try and use experience to their advantage.
Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup – Chang International Circuit Test
The first action of the year for the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup saw the grid getting to grips with 2017 over two days at the track.
Australian rider Reid Battye also took to the track, having recently taken second overall in the ASBK Phillip Island season opener, in the Supersport 300 Production class. He will be competing in the Asia Talent Cup and ASBK in 2017.
“The Asia Talent cup is an awesome experience and opportunity for me to learn pure racing different tracks and a proper race bike. During the test I grabbed grips with the bike as it was my first time aboard a Moto 3 machine. My first session I thought to myself, ‘How will I ever get used to this machine as it is much different from what I usually ride’. Step by step I became more comfortable and relaxed on the bike and started lowering my times. Now we have the weekend approaching for the first race of 2017 with the Asia Talent Cup at the Chang International Circuit. I am very excited and nervous but can’t wait to get racing. And yes, I am the only Aussie rider this year.”
The first day of testing was punctuated by crashes for many of the grid, with the first session seeing four fallers. Day 1 saw a total of 13 riders go down, as many of the riders got their first taste of the circuit, the bike and their competition ahead of the first race weekend of the year.
With a host of new recruits and some eager veterans ready for their next campaign, Japan and Indonesia lead the way on representation this season with eight and seven riders respectively – joined by competitors from the Philippines, Australia, Turkey, Malaysia and the host nation for the first action of the year, Thailand.
Malaysian Azroy Anuar was the quickest out the blocks, with experienced Rysuei Yamanaka, Can Öncü and Yuki Kunii next on the timesheets – and Thai rider Kritchaporn Kaewsonthi putting in a solid first day at home to complete the top five.
Day 2 saw 14 fallers, and Anuar kept his good form rolling as he was a constant presence in the top three. Kaewsonthi also impressed once again as the number 15 rides at his home circuit, steadfastly remaining in the top echelons of the timesheets.
The grid put in a race simulation in the afternoon of the second day, with a five lap Warm Up, a trip through the pits and then a full 18 laps out on track.
There were some crashes – including a fall for Kaewsonthi at the final corner – but it was Can Öncü who took the victory, with Haruki Noguchi and Azroy Anuar completing the podium.
The fastest overall on the combined timesheets was Japanese rider Yuki Kunii on a 1:47.181, closely followed by Malaysian Anuar – with local Kaewsonthi completing the top three.
The three riders were within a tenth of a second of each other in an extremely close contest at the top. Anuar was the only rider who didn’t improve on the second day, but the Malaysian set comparable times in both sessions.
While official test times aren’t available, Battye was around 10th fastest, and during the race simulation came seventh.
After the “race”, the grid then concentrated on time attack runs of five laps – before finishing off the test with practice starts off the grid.
Alberto Puig – Talent Promotion Director, Dorna Sports
“It’s never easy the first time. Many guys are new. We were lucky to have good weather and no big problems or injuries. They got to understand the bike and the track. Yesterday, the gap between the top riders and the others was bigger, but today it was a little less. We know there are riders who can win the Cup and those who can go step by step to become top runners. When a rider crashes, they don’t like it and it angers them. They have to understand why they’ve crashed – and a few have needed more than one crash to understand it. It’s not easy to see talent, but we can guess. There are some guys who could surprise us, and maybe others who will be in trouble for a year.”
The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup gets in gear again very soon at Chang International Circuit from 10th-12th March as racing gets underway – this weekend alongside the Thai Round of WorldSBK
2017 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup Calendar
March 5 – 6 – Test – Buriram, Thailand
March 10-12 – Races 1 & 2, WorldSBK of Thailand – Buriram, Thailand
March 23-26 – Races 3 & 4, MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar – Losail, Qatar
June 2-4 – Races 5 & 6, Asia Road Racing Championship – Suzuka, Japan
July 28-30 – Races 7 & 8, Malaysia Superbike Championship – Sepang, Malaysia
October 13-15 – Races 9 & 10, MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan – Motegi, Japan
October 27-29 – Races 11 & 12, MotoGP Grand Prix of Malaysia – Sepang, Malaysia
2017 Asia Talent Cup Rider List
# – Name – Country – Age – Height – Weight
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