It happened: Asia Talent Cup riders reached the world stage, debuting in the Moto3 class. Toba, champion of the first Asia Talent Cup, and Sasaki, champion the following year, started the Moto3 season in fine form. Their outstanding performances in the first two rounds drew attention: They were rookies with real potential.
Asia Talent Cup riders achieve their debuts in world grand prix racing.
2014 Asia Talent Cup champion Kaito Toba, and 2015 champion Ayumu Sasaki. Toba, from Fukuoka, Japan, just turned 17. 16-year-old Sasaki from Kanagawa, Japan, was a strong contender in the first Asia Talent Cup.
After graduating the Asia Talent Cup, both riders went on to gain racing experience in the Moto3 Junior World Championship and MotoGP Rookies Cup. Toba went on to win both series, earning his seat in the Moto3 class. Toba joined Honda Team Asia, while Sasaki now races for SIC Racing Team. Both ride Honda NSF250RW factory bikes.
Sasaki had made his world grand prix debut last year, albeit as a replacement rider in the Malaysian Grand Prix. He had retired soon after the race had begun. This year, however, Sasaki was fighting with the leaders in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, and although he faded at the end, finished a respectable 11th for his first race as a full-time team rider.
Toba finished 19th in Qatar, but in the following round in Argentina, performed well from Qualifying, despite being on the track for the first time. After a fierce battle in the chasing group, he crossed the finish line in 10th place.
Modern Moto3 races are closely fought ordeals, where rookies rarely finish within the points early in the season. Thanks to their experience in the Asia Talent Cup where all riders were on identical bikes, both riders were accustomed to close-range battles, enabling them to keep up with experienced grand prix riders.
Rivals since their days in the Asia Talent Cup, Sasaki and Toba now fight to become Rookie of the Year. As the season develops, and with more experience as grand prix riders, they will undoubtedly become more competitive, making them role models for Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup riders of today. In the Moto3 class, all eyes are on Sasaki and Toba.
Kunii (center) the winner, Yamanaka (left) second, and Noguchi (right) third. Japanese riders dominate the podium. For Noguchi, who competes in the IATC this year, this
Round 2 of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, the Qatar Grand Prix, was raced at the Losail International Circuit. This round was held alongside the MotoGP season-opening round, but Race 1 was cancelled due to poor track conditions.
In Qualifying, Yuki Kunii secured his second pole position, his first being at last year’s Japan round. Track conditions improved by the time Race 2 started, heralding a fierce 9-way battle for the lead, which continued through the entire 14-lap race. Kunii emerged victorious, his first win for the season. 0.009s behind, Ryusei Yamanaka is 2nd, and 0.096s adrift, Haruki Noguchi is 3rd, giving Japanese riders a clean sweep of the podium. This was Kunii’s third victory, Yamanaka’s third podium of three rounds, and a first podium for Noguchi in his IATC debut year. Deniz Oncu, double-winner in the opening round, finished 5th, retaining his championship lead.
One identical machines, even Round 2 was a closely battled ordeal. Kunii, his second year in the series, earned his first victory of the season.
Race 1, planned for Saturday, was cancelled due to bad track conditions due to rain.
Taiga Hada wins his first SS600 class race in the Asia Road Racing Championship.
18-year-old Yamanashi-born Hada grew up competing in Japanese minibike races, and in 2014, joined the Asian championship Underbone 130 class to finish the season 2nd. In 2015, he moved up to the SS600 class, and is now in his 3rd year of the series.
Hada qualified 3rd in Malaysia, the season-opener. Last year’s SS600 champion, Md Zaqhwan Zaidi (Honda) won, but Hada was in the thick of the battle for the lead, and earned 2nd place for his first podium. In Race 2, Hada took the holeshot and led the race, crossing the line 5.089s ahead of his closest rival, for his first SS600 class victory.
“I knew what was going on around me, and I had a calm battle. I’m grateful to the team for providing me with a winning machine,” Hada commented.
Hada’s commanding victory is his first in the SS600 class. The team was overjoyed for their first win.
Hada, debuting in the ARRC, is an 18-year-old Japanese rider, battle-hardened in Asia, worth taking note of.
The new CBR250RR debuts in the ARRC AP250 class. Indonesian Gerry Salim gives the CBR250RR its first win in the opening round of the ARRC at Johor Bahru in Malaysia.
Salim not only competes in the ARRC, but in the IATC as well. Since drawing attention at the Asia Dream Cup, battled with CBR250Rs, he gained further experience in the All-Japan J-GP3 class. In 2015, Salim joined the Asia Talent Cup, and one year later, was entered in both the Asia Talent Cup and ARRC SS600 class. His first victory came at the Indonesia round in the SS600 class.
The CBR250RR is built by Astra Honda in Indonesia, and was entrusted to Salim, a support rider for Astra Honda, for its debut. Salim exceeded all expectations by winning both Races 1 and 2.
Salim achieves double-win on the new CBR250RR. Gota Yamamoto, also riding the new CBR250RR, finishes 2nd in Race 1.
20-year-old Indonesian rider Salim gains experience and competitiveness through participating in Honda’s ADC and IATC programs.