The Asia Talent Cup Round 2 in Thailand saw Sho Nishimura compound his lead, despite claiming two second place finishes, with the wins shared between Afridza Munandar in Race 1 and Tatchakorn Buasri in Race 2, with Nishimura’s consistency proving key across the weekend.
Race 1 also saw Samuel Voight claim 12th for four championship points, while Jacob Roulstone was 14th with two points. In Race 2 Luke Power came home tenth for six points, while Roulstone was 11th for five.
Afridza Munandar took his first ever Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup win in Race 1 at Chang International Circuit, pitching it to perfection in a frantic final corner to emerge ahead of Japanese duo Sho Nishimura and Takuma Matsuyama. As ever, everything went down to the wire in a last dash shuffle, but the Indonesian emerged ahead to open his victory account.
At lights out it was home hero and pacesetter in practice Tatchakorn Buasri who got the holeshot from pole, but Matsuyama struck early and made it past two riders in Turn 1 to take the lead. From there it was the Japanese rider dueling Buasri initially, but a group was on the chase comprised Adenanta Putra, Munandar, Nishimura, Warit Thongnoppakun, Piyawat Patoomyos, Adbul Mutaquim and Shoki Igarashi. As the race settled into a rhythm, however, it was Matsuyama leading a group of five at the head of the race and Thongnoppakun seeming to start to fade.
Soon after though, the Thai rider got his head down and closed back in on the leading quintet of Matsuyama, Putra, Munandar, Buasri and Nishimura to make a lead group of six, but it wasn’t long until Indonesian rookie Herjun Firdais was able to get in the mix too. Chopping and changing and jostling for position, the laps ticked down until the hour of reckoning: the final lap.
By then Firdaus was struggling to tag back on to the group and the stage was set for a six-man tussle at the final corner – exactly what it became. Buasri seemed to have found himself a little out of position for an assault on the win and Putra had suffered a big moment not long before, but the final turn, as it would turn out, belonged to Munandar.
The Indonesian went bravely round the outside, able to keep his speed up and avoid the squabble at the apex before gunning it to the line in style, just ahead of those nipping at his heels.
It was elbows out to complete the podium though, with Nishimura just able to hold off Matsuyama in some Qatar deja vu to keep his Championship lead, with home rider Buasri left off the podium in fourth. For the polesitter and the pacesetter for most of the weekend, that will be something he’ll be desperate to improve on in Race 2.
Putra completed the top five ahead of Thongnoppakun, with impressive rookie Firdaus in seventh. Fellow debutant, Malaysian Idhil Mahadi, took P8 and a big step forward from Round 1, with Patoomyos, Syarifuddin Azman and Mutaquim all in extremely close company just behind.
Australian Harrison Voight, Hildhan Kusuma, Jacob Roulstone and Rei Wakamatsu completed the points, with Igarashi the final finisher after sliding out at the final corner mid-race but getting back on.
Asia Talent Cup – Chang International Circuit Race 1
Sho Nishimura +0.074 20
Takuma Matsuyama +0.094 16
Tatchakorn Buasri +0.161 13
Adenanta Putra +0.166 11
Warit Thongnoppakun +0.290 10
Herjun Firdaus +2.788 9
Muhammad Idil Fitri Bin Mahadi +9.848 8
Piyawat Patoomyos +9.942 7
Syarifuddin Azman +10.101 6
Abdul Mutaquim +10.165 5
Samuel Voight +20.531 4
Hildhan Kusuma +20.711 3
Jacob Roulstone +46.688 2
Rei Wakamatsu +1’12.207 1
Shoki Igarashi +1’12.208 0
Tatchakorn Buasri got a taste of home glory as his took victory in a dramatic Race 2 in Thailand, with the race red-flagged and the Thai rider in the perfect position at the perfect time after fighting in the front group throughout from pole.
Points leader Sho Nishimura took second despite a crash as the race result was counted back to the last time over the line, escaping a disaster for his title hopes, with Race 1 winner Afridza Munandar completing the podium.
Buasri got a barnstormer of a start from pole, taking off into clean air as Adenanta Putra gunned it behind him and was able to close in for an attack at Turn 3. The Thai rider hit back soon though and Takuma Matsuyama closed in on the duo in the lead as the long freight train off the line remained incredibly close behind them.
With everyone having gained a little more experience of Chang International Circuit in Race 1, it was closer on Sunday as that huge group of riders remained tightly packed together.
Two or three abreast at times, the squabble saw the majority of the field fighting it out in the initial stages. The lilkes of Buasri, Matsuyama, Putra, Munandar, Warit Thongnoppakun, Nishimura, Idil Mahadi and Piyawat Patoomyos were just hundredths apart and the fight for the lead stretched from first place back into the distance.
As the laps ticked down, however, it was a 12-rider train that emerged at the front and was able to make a bit of a break for it, with the racing and jostling for position keeping the same frantic pace. With seven laps to go, a crash for Syarifuddin Azman saw the Malaysian fall out of contention and the group became 11, but the battle was headed for an as-yet unknown dramatic crescendo.
With three laps to go, Abdul Mutaqim suffered a problem and dropped back from the group, making it a ten rider train settling in for the final fight. But then drama suddenly struck as Championship leader Nishumura slid out, the crash seeming like a disaster for the rider who won the first three races of the season. The drama, however, was far from over…
Lightning struck twice in as many minutes in the front group as a crash between Firdaus and Mahadi took them out of the mix, the incident bringing the Red Flag out soon after. That meant the result was counted back to the last time over the line and it was home hero Buasri who’d been leading the pack then; delight for the Thai rider after missing out on a podium in Race 1.
It was a stroke of luck for Nishimura just behind in second as the Japanese rider, by virtue of having been able to remount after his crash, gets classified second – the position he was in over the line before the incident.
Race 1 winner Munandar completed the podium for a top weekend in Thailand, with Putra in fourth and Matsuyama locking out the top five as he loses some ground in the title fight. Thongnoppakun took sixth on home turf, ahead of Shoki Igarashi and Patoomyos. Mutaqim takes P9, mitigating the issue he suffered after the group crossed the line for the final time.
Australian Luke Power won the battle to complete the top ten and pipped compatriot Jacob Roulstone, with Ryosuke Bando in P12, ahead of countryman Rei Wakamatsu. The final finisher was Kadir Erbay, after Hildhan Kusuma and Harrison Voight tangled at the final corner earlier in the race and failed to finish.
Mahadi was taken to hospital for further and final check ups.
That’s it from Buriram and another top weekend in Thailand, with Nishimura retaining his advantage in the standings as we head for Round 3. That’s at Sepang International Circuit as the Cup race alongside Malaysian Superbike from the 14th to 16th July.
Asia Talent Cup – Chang International Circuit Race 2
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