Kunimine wins on the line
Just forty-three thousandths of a second separated the top four in the first race of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup Saturday in Qatar.
The big stars of the MotoGP™ World Championship got to watch an incredible spectacle in the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, as the riders completed the first race of the weekend at the Losail International Circuit, as part of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
The race, scheduled for 14 laps, met the expectations set in qualifying as the lead group showed just how evenly they are matched and right from the start it was clear it was going to be an incredibly close race.
A group of nine riders broke away from the rest of the field with the pole sitter Atiratphuvapat and Sasaki dicing at the front, along with Masaki who was the first to set a quick lap, lowering the track record by 1.7s. Although the pace wasn’t as quick as expected, as strong winds meant riders could not match the pole time set yesterday.
Azman and Rostam crashed out of the leading group under braking at the end of the start/finish straight, luckily both riders escaping without injury. Yuta Date, the runner-up last year in the Cup, fell away from the main group as the injury to his right leg affected his performance.
The leading group of Atiratphuvapat, Izdihar, Chantra, Kunimine, Masaki and Sasaki were constantly swapping positions and at times were six-wide in the braking zone. It was clear the race would come down to the very last corner.
On the last lap Sasaki made a break, with only Masaki sticking with the leader, but one of the characteristics of the Losail circuit is the long home straight, with the finish line a long way from the final corner. This means that the rider who exits the final corner first, is often not the one to take the race win as riders have a chance to take advantage of each others slipstreams. So it was on this occasion, with Sasaki leading out of turn 16 onto the straight and Masaki on his back wheel. They were so close as they approached the line that they actually touched, and in fact were overtaken by both Kunimine and Chantra, who seemed to come from nowhere, to knock Sasaki down to third.
Despite missing out on the race win, Ayumu Sasaki remains the leader of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup after race 3 of the scheduled 12. The Japanese rider has a lead of 10 and 11 points respectively over Atiratphuvapat and Chantra.
More, from another press release issued by Dorna:
Izdihar claims first victory for Indonesia
Andi Izdihar was victorious in the second race of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup Sunday in Losail, beating Sasaki and Chantra.
Andy Izdihar took the win in the second race of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, which this weekend formed part of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
The Indonesian rider from Bulukumba who is just 17 years old, managed to pass Sasaki and Chantra in the drag to the finish line with the top two separated by just 0.029s.
The race was essentially a carbon copy of the first one, which took place on Saturday. With 20 riders on track (Taylor and Paz having withdrawn), a leading group composed of 11 riders, led the race for the majority of the 14 laps around the 5.4 km circuit. Battling at the front of this group were Sasaki, Izdihar and Atiratphuvapat, with Masaki also getting involved.
The winner of yesterdays race, Kunimine, decided to stay in the middle of the pack and let his rivals take the responsibility of leading from the front, with the pace being slight faster than yesterday, as once again lap records were re-written.
The 11 riders were separated by just 1.5 seconds, meaning the action at the end of the home straight in the braking zone was spectacular to say the least, although it did lead to some hairy moments as there were so many riders aiming for the racing line. With 5 laps remaining this led to Atiratphuvapat and Kunimine touching slightly under heavy braking, with the Japanese rider unfortunately crashing out. This incident would prove to be decisive in the outcome of the race.
With the leading ten riders split by just a second as they started the final lap, the action became even more frenetic as riders tried to get themselves into the best position to allow them to take advantage of the slipstreams on offer on the long straight, in the race to the line. Atiratphuvapat was the first out of the last corner, but it was Izdihar, who managed to gain the biggest advantage from the leaders breaking the air in front of him, taking the race win by just 0.029s from Sasaki in 2nd.
After the race, Race Direction reviewed the incident between Atiratphuvapat and Kunimine, and decided to give the Thai rider a one-minute penalty, which relegated him down to 18th, and promoted Chantra onto the podium in 3rd.
Director of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup, Alberto Puig: “In this second race we have seen a good fight just like yesterday, especially on the last lap, where we saw the riders set the fastest lap. Here we have finished a run of four races in two weekends, and the conclusion is very positive, since both Sepang and Chang and have seen riders set a very good pace. We now have a break of three months; it’s time to train and for riders to continue their preparation at home. “
Ayumu Sasaki has ended up on the podium in each of the four races so far (three 2nd’s & one 3rd) and he leads the standings in the 2015 Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup with a total of 76 points, ahead of Chantra and Masaki by 15 & 24 points respectively.
The Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup returns in Sepang between 31 July – 2 August, and will form part of the WorldSBK round taking place that weekend.