One of Dorna’s key objectives is to create diverse platforms for the promotion of young riders in different countries, to ensure the development of future generations of new talented riders, who will eventually take the place of the current stars of MotoGP™ and WorldSBK. The basic idea is the organisation of competitions on the same machinery for all the riders, with that machinery sharing characteristics with the bikes used in MotoGP. These are motorcycles which combine some basic mechanical, riding style and set-up features, but also allow young riders to compete at a high level.
One of these projects for Asia and Australia is the Road Racing FIM Asia Talent Cup, which in 2017 will be called the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup. The participating riders come from countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and Turkey.
The competition sees Asia's stars of the future participate in a ten race championship held over five rounds throughout the year, with all of the riders on homogenised Honda NSF250R Moto3™ bikes.
The season begins in February at the Sepang circuit, with two days of practice for the selected riders, allowing them to become acquainted with their bikes for the season ahead. Two intense days of testing give them a closer look at the characteristics of the Honda NSF250R Moto3™, a world-class machine in terms of performance. The riders learn the trajectories and the response of the suspension, whilst also getting an understanding of the limits of the brakes, a challenge for the talented young riders as they take a step up onto this more demanding machinery.
The race calendar features visits to Thailand (Chang), Qatar (Losail), Japan (Suzuka and Motegi) and Malaysia (Sepang). The races take place during either MotoGP™ or WSBK rounds at the aforementioned circuits, or in separate independent events organized just for the championship.
The role of Dorna is not limited to the organization of the competition. In parallel to this, Dorna manages the selection process for the following season. Firstly via an intense promotional campaign to invite applications from interested riders in more than 15 countries, including Japan, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, among others. Once the registration process is completed, a selection committee evaluates and studies the applications and makes a first selection. The candidates are then invited to a selection event in October, at the Sepang International Circuit. Once the results are evaluated, the list of the 22 riders chosen for the new edition of the Cup is made public.
Alberto Puig, a Grand Prix rider in the ‘80s and ‘90s in the 250cc and 500cc categories, has had, and continues to have a crucial role in the selection process and in the development of the 22 participating riders since the beginning of the first Asia Talent Cup. Alberto Puig assumes a double role as director of the Cup, supervising the various sporting aspects of the competition and also as the director of rider talent development. Alberto Puig previously worked as the manager of riders such as Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elías and in the training and talent scouting of riders for the MotoGP™ Academy.
Champions of previous editions
In 2016 the champion of the Asia Talent Cup was Somkiat Chantra, the first Thai rider to win the ATC. Chantra was proclaimed champion in the last race of the season at Sepang, after a close battle with Ai Ogura, Andi Izdihar and Ryusei Yamanaka.
In 2015 Ayumu Sasaki was the champion in the Asia Talent Cup. Ayumu Sasaki then joined Kaito Toba in the Asia Talent Team of the Moto3 Junior World Championship. He won it next year and placed 6th at CEV.
In 2014, the Cup’s first champion was the aforementioned Japanese rider Toba, who is a good example of the success of the Asia Talent Cup. His progress has led him from the Asian promotional competition to become a member of the Asia Talent Team, with whom he finished fourth overall in the 2016 Moto3 Junior World Championship, with three podiums and a victory.
For 2017 Toba will compete in the Moto3™ class of the MotoGP™ World Championship with Honda Team Asia, accompanied by another rider from the Asia Talent Cup and a fellow member of the Asia Talent Team in 2016, Thailand’s Nakarin Atiratphuvapat. Nakarin was fourth in the Asia Talent Cup in 2015, with two wins.