IATC GENERAL INFORMATION
The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup will be back in business in 2021, creating another opportunity for young riders from the Asia-Pacific region to race on the Road to MotoGP™. After the Covid-19 pandemic obliged the cancellation of the 2020 edition, the majority of the grid are back with the chance to continue in the Cup granted automatically – and they are joined by six new faces. Across the permanent and reserve riders, the 2021 IATC will comprise representatives from eight countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Qatar, Thailand and Turkey, as they compete on equal Honda NSF250R Moto3™ machinery to hone and improve their skills and racecraft on the Road to MotoGP™. The riders also get guidance from Asia Talent Cup Director Alberto Puig and his team of experts.
After a test in Qatar alongside Moto2™ and Moto3™ in mid-March this season, the Cup commences at Losail International Circuit in Qatar alongside the MotoGP™ season opener later that month. Round 2 also takes place alongside MotoGP™ at Losail the following week for the Grand Prix of Doha, before heading for the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan after summer break. The week after, the grid head for Buriram in Thailand, remaining alongside MotoGP™ for the majority of the season, before a return to Sepang International Circuit for Round 5. The final round of the season is then set to take place at Mandalika Street Circuit in Indonesia, alongside the WorldSBK paddock.
So who will win the Cup in 2021? Japanese riders initially dominated, with Kaito Toba’s triumph in the inaugural series in 2014 followed up by Ayumu Sasaki’s success in 2015. In 2016, the first Thai winner was crowned, Somkiat Chantra, before Deniz Öncü took the title for Turkey in 2017. There was then a little more history made in 2018 as Bill Van Eerde became the first ever Australian Champion, before 2019 saw Japan regain the crown as Sho Nishimura beat Takuma Matsuyama to the honour. As the Cup gets back on track, the rookies will be eager to take on the veterans in 2021.
The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup is run by Dorna, the organisers of the MotoGP™ World Championship, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup, the Honda British Talent Cup and the Northern Talent Cup, as well as co-organiser of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The competition provides an opportunity for the most talented young riders in Asia and Oceania to make their first steps on the Road to MotoGP™.
The organisation provides all-encompassing support to riders with a full, professional infrastructure meeting international racing standards, as well as managing the logistics involved in running a pan-Asian series.
Beyond nurturing their talents, the support provided to the riders also includes insurance coverage, flight tickets and travel arrangements for each round, so they can focus on the job at hand: developing their potential. Former premier class racer and renowned talent scout Alberto Puig is on board to help foster and develop the careers of the young riders from the region, and the IATC has already proven to be one of the best paths on the Road to MotoGP™: the entry list for the 2021 Moto3™ World Championship includes the likes of Grand Prix winner Kaito Toba, podium finisher Ayumu Sasaki, sophomore Yuki Kunii, Ryusei Yamanaka, Andi Izdihar and previous IATC winner Deniz Öncü. Somkiat Chantra also now competes in the Moto2™ World Championship and was the first from the Cup to take on the intermediate class. He’s now joined in Moto2™ by former Ai Ogura as the Japanese rider moves up following his impressive Moto3™ title challenge in 2020.
Meanwhile, 2019 IATC runner-up Takuma Matsuyama and former IATC rivals Tatchakorn Buasri and Mario Aji continue their journeys in the Junior Talent Team in the FIM CEV Repsol, with the likes of 2018 IATC Champion Bill Van Eerde also still racing against them as he moves to another team. The IATC class of 2021 will be aiming to follow in their footsteps on the Road to MotoGP™.