Toba takes victory in Zhuhai, Date still leads standings
Japanese rider Toba Kaito took his second victory of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup on Saturday, winning the race held at China’s Zhuhai circuit.
The day’s action at the Zhuhai International Circuit commenced with a 25 minute qualifying run, with the Japanese riders in the field taking the top seven positions.
The youngest rider on the grid, Ayumu Sasaki, just 13 years-old, took pole with his last lap, outpacing Toba and Kunimine by 0.013s and 0.145s respectively. The session took place in intense early morning heat, with no major incidents of note, other than a crash for Thai rider Nakarin Atiratphuvapat.
There were 12,000 fans in the Zhuhai stands for the race, as the crowd enjoyed the action despite the sweltering conditions, with an ambient temperature of 39°C.
Malaysian rider Norrodin took a surprise lead at the race start despite getting away from eighth on the grid, with Toba, Date, Sasaki and Mizuno following in his wake. But his lead was short lived, as by the second lap Toba had increased the pace and opened a gap of nearly two seconds over the rest of the pack.
With five of the 15 laps to go Sasaki looked to hunt down the race leader, lapping at seven tenths of a second under his pole time and taking Date along with him. The battle went down to the last lap with Toba ultimately taking victory from Date by a tenth of a second and with Sasaki finishing third.
Toba said of his victorious performance, “In Sentul it was a battle from start to finish, so it was not so hard for me. But here, it was harder as I tried to pull away but Ayumu was getting closer behind me. So I decided to stop trying to get away and started following Ayumu's riding. I am happy as I made a successful strategy that allowed me to win. The battle with Date and Sasaki was interesting and I learned some things while battling that I will use again tomorrow to try to win again. But I know I won't be able to use exactly the same strategy again for tomorrow's race.”
Meanwhile, the Director of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, Alberto Puig, expressed his satisfaction at the end of the day’s activities, saying: “It was a nice race, the three Japanese riders who were on the podium are perhaps one step ahead of the rest and we expected that if nothing unusual happened the victory would be contested between them. The heat was intense, but it's the same for everyone. This is a Cup, all the bikes are the same, they have the same tyres, so the riders make the difference.”
On Sunday at 12.55pm (GMT +8) the second race of the weekend takes place in Zhuhai, marking the fourth race of the Shell Advance Talent Asia Cup season.