Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup raring to race in Qatar2018-03-14 08:15
After a stunning 2017 season that saw the battle go down to the final lap and even final corner of the last race at Sepang International Circuit, 2018 will have a lot to live up to – but the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup is ready for the challenge, with a largely new cast of riders raring to race in 2018.
The first contest of the season takes place at Losail International Circuit in 2018, with the IATC appearing alongside the season opener of MotoGP™ in Qatar. Losail is 5.4km long with six left- and ten right-handed corners, with a long main straight of just over a kilometer: an exciting first venue for the slipstreaming and close racing of the IATC.
Last season, Losail was the second race weekend on the calendar and, although interrupted by rain on Saturday, Sunday staged a stunner – with victory going to Yuki Kunii. Kunii has now graduated from the ranks, but compatriot Haruki Noguchi will be wanting to follow in his footsteps and take the first win of the year after dominating in testing and putting together an impressive campaign last year.
It won’t be easy, however. With a large proportion of rookies in the field this season, many lack the experience of riders like Noguchi – but many impressed with their outright pace in testing. Mario Aji of Indonesia was second quickest at that test at Sepang – one of five riders from the South East Asian nation on the grid this year – just ahead of Japanese rider Sho Nishimura, with the two just 0.025 apart on the combined timesheets.
Sadly local rider Yousef Al-Darwish will not be lining up after injuring himself in Sepang, but there will be representation for Thailand, Malaysia and Australia all in the top ten in an incredibly tight midfield in testing, and the Philippines weren’t far behind. That sets the perfect scene for the first race of the year, with Qatar underway on the 16th and 17th March and sure to open IATC action with a bang.
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