20 full-time riders are set to race in the six-round, 12-race 2021 Cup, with four competitors chosen as reserves. The 24 riders hail from seven countries across Asia and Oceania: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Turkey.
As the Covid-19 pandemic obliged the cancellation of the 2020 Cup following the opening round in Qatar, including the 2021 Selection Event, every rider who was set to compete in the Cup this season automatically had a spot available on the 2021 grid.
The majority of the 2021 Entry List therefore comprises familiar faces, with any remaining places filled by riders from national championships or racing schools across Asia and Oceania, chosen by the ATC Selection Committee.
As previously announced, young Aussie Harrison Voight will not return to compete in the IATC as he was chosen to compete in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Voight will also compete in the 2021 FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship, as will 2018 Asia Talent Cup Champion Billy van Eerde. Compatriot Max Gibbons also leaves the IATC.
Malaysian Syarifuddin Azman will leave the IATC, instead focusing on the Moto3 JWCh in 2021. Shoki Igarashi has also decided to not return to the grid in 2021.
Joining the IATC for 2021 are Australian Oceania Junior Cup alumni Marianos Nikolis and Tom Drane.
Nikolis from Royalla, NSW, and Drane from Forbes, NSW, who finished 1st and 2nd respectively in this year’s OJC, as part of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented by Motul (ASBK), are the newest OJC riders to be selected to race in the highly competitive Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup (IATC).
MA and the the FIM Oceania Junior Cup Management Team selected Nikolis and Drane, both highly skilled riders not only for their results and natural talent on track but their maturity and professionalism off track.
Both riders have come from a dirt track background, with Nikolis a 2-time Motostars Junior Champion who finished 5th in last year’s OJC and convincingly won the Championship this year.
Drane who finished 3rd in the OJC last year and runner-up this year is a 15-time Australian Dirt Track Champion, 20-time State Dirt Track Champion, and 3-time American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Dirt Track Champion.
For both Nikolis and Drane the unexpected news has turn out to be the ultimate Christmas surprise.
“I’m very excited it’s been a big dream of mine since I started racing,” said Nikolis.
“I’ve looked up to Billy Van Eerde for a while so it’s an exciting opportunity and definitely a great Christmas present, what more could you ask for.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for the Oceania Junior Cup and I can’t thank the OJC and all the staff enough for how they have helped me.
“Winning the Oceania Junior Cup Championship and hearing the good news about the Asia Talent Cup it just couldn’t make my year any better.”
Young Malaysian Hakim Danish, who was put forward by Sepang International Circuit, will also join the grid, as will Tetsuya Fujita, a rider from the All Japan Championship chosen by Honda.
Another key headline sees the return of Danial Sharil. The Malaysian suffered leg injuries in the final round of the 2018 IATC and has since been on a long but successful road to recovery, ready to take his place back on the grid next season.
Australia’s entrants are the youngest in the competition with both Carter Thompson and Marianos Nikolis both only 13, while countryman Tom Drane is 14.
Competition is set to begin alongside MotoGP in Qatar, before making a first visit to Sepang International Circuit with the Malaysia Superbike Championship.
From there the Cup is back with the Grand Prix paddock at the Twin Ring Motegi, Buriram and Sepang, before rounding out the season alongside WorldSBK at Mandalika Street Circuit in Indonesia.
All dates, events, and the eventual attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the pandemic and the approval of corresponding governments and authorities.
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