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.
The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup is a competition that seeks to promote the careers of riders from Asia, Australia and New Zealand as they aim to improve their skills and strive to eventually reach the MotoGP™ World Championship. The Cup is designed as the perfect stepping-stone for young riders to get onto the world stage, providing an opportunity like no other for young talent from the region to grow and progress on the Road to MotoGP™.
The competition sees Asia's stars of the future participate in a 12-race championship held over six rounds throughout the year. The race calendar features visits to Qatar (Losail), Thailand (Buriram), Japan (Motegi) and Malaysia (Sepang). The majority of the races take place during either MotoGP™ or WorldSBK rounds at the aforementioned circuits and all of the riders compete on identical Honda NSF250R Moto3™ bikes.
The season begins in February with testing to give riders 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 role of Dorna is not limited to the organisation of the competition. In parallel, Dorna also 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 Sepang International Circuit. Once the results are evaluated, the list of the riders chosen for the new edition of the Cup is made public.
Alberto Puig, former premier class racer and renowned talent scout, has had, and continues to have, a crucial role in the selection process and in the development of the participating riders since the beginning of the first Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup.
Champions of previous editions
In 2017, the Champion was young Turkish rider Deniz Öncü, who was the first from his nation to take the crown – beating, amongst others, twin brother Can Öncü to the title. He won it at the final round before moving up to compete in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and the Moto3™ Junior World Championship, although it was brother Can who hit back to take the 2018 Rookies crown.
In 2016 the Champion of the Asia Talent Cup was Somkiat Chantra, the first Thai rider to win the ATC. Chantra was, like many, proclaimed champion in the last race of the season at Sepang, after a close battle with Ai Ogura, Andi Izdihar and Ryusei Yamanaka. He then moved to the Moto3™ Junior World Championship and the next stepping stone – including a wildcard appearance in the Moto3™ World Championship round at his home Grand Prix at Buriram, taking a stunning top ten finish.
2015 belonged to the Cup's most successful export so far, Ayumu Sasaki, before he then joined Kaito Toba in the Asia Talent Team in the Moto3™ Junior World Championship. From there Sasaki then moved to Moto3™ and was crowned Rookie of the Year in 2017, before taking another step forward with consistent top ten threats and front row starts in 2018.
In 2014, the Cup’s first champion was aforementioned Japanese rider Toba, who next finished fourth overall in the 2016 Moto3™ Junior World Championship, with three podiums and a victory. For 2017 Toba moved to 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.
2018 saw the first ever Australian IATC Champion crowned as Bill Van Eerde took the crown in the final round. He beat 2017 runner up Haruki Noguchi in a dramatic season finale and will now be a teammate of the Japanese rider in the Junior Talent Team racing in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship.