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Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup: celebrating a decade creating the stars of tomorrow

16 May 2024

Over ten years of the ATC, 18 riders have gone from ATC success to Grand Prix glory as the Road to MotoGP™ programme continues to thrive

In 2024, the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup celebrates its 10-year anniversary and in the past decade we’ve seen a fantastic amount of ability climb up the Road to MotoGP™ ladder having learned their trade in the ATC.

Since 2014, 23 riders have made Grand Prix appearances and 18 riders have been able to earn themselves a permanent place on the Grand Prix grid in Moto3™ or Moto2™. Of those 18, 10 are still competing in the two classes in 2024 – a magnificent number that will continue to grow as the ATC promotes more bright talents through its ranks this year and beyond.

In addition, the ATC has produced riders that have claimed great accolades in the World Championship, including top three overall finishes in Moto2™ and Moto3™ thanks to Ai Ogura and Ayumu Sasaki. The latter is also part of an ATC alumni trio that has won the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup, with Kazuki Masaki and Can Öncü the riders to lift that trophy alongside other great names.

Following the Cup’s launch in 2014, it only took a couple of years before we saw its first success in Moto3™ as Adam Norrodin became the first alumnus to take on Grand Prix racing in 2016. A year later, 2014 ATC Champion Kaito Toba, Thai rider Nakarin Atiratphuvapat and 2015 ATC Champion Ayumu Sasaki were full time Moto3™ riders.

2018 saw 2017 Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup winner and former ATC rider Kazuki Masaki join the lightweight class grid, alongside the four riders already there. Sasaki was the highest-placed former ATC rider in the Moto3™ standings come the end of the season, but history was made at the Valencia GP.

Competing in his first Moto3™ race as a wildcard, Can Öncü became the first former ATC rider to win a Grand Prix. The Turk finished P3 in the 2017 ATC and won the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup before his remarkable win at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, where he then became the first ATC winner as well as the youngest Grand Prix winner ever.

2019 then saw alumni lining up on the GP grid – and for the first time, one was in Moto2™.

Somkiat Chantra, the 2016 Cup winner, moved straight into the Moto2™ class as the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia outfit was born in 2019. Now, riders coming through the ATC had a full pathway to MotoGP™, and they had proof the process was working as Toba won his first GP race, with rookie Ogura earning a P2 and a top 10 Championship result in his debut season.

In 2020, eight riders across Moto2™ and Moto3™ were former ATC riders. In Moto3™, Ogura backed up his stellar rookie season with a P3 overall after fighting for the title, while Sasaki and Toba stood on the podium too. By now, Deniz Öncü – 2017 ATC Champion – was a full-time lightweight class competitor too, and so were Ryusei Yamanaka and Yuki Kunii.

In 2021, more podiums were added to Sasaki and Deniz Öncü’s CVs in Moto3™, while Ogura claimed his first Moto2™ rostrum as a rookie – a P2 in Austria, also the ATC’s debut intermediate class podium.

2022 rolled around and in both classes, history was created. Chantra, thanks to a victory in Indonesia, took his maiden Moto2™ victory in style to become the first Grand Prix winner from Thailand and the first former ATC rider to win in the intermediate class. That same season, Ogura then went on to notch up three wins on his way to a close P2 in the Championship, and in Moto3™, Sasaki won his first GP races in Assen and Austria to earn P4 in the overall standings.

In 2023, more joy – and lots of it – was had by ATC alumni in both classes. Chantra won again, this time in Japan, while Deniz Öncü etched his name down as a Moto3™ winner on three occasions. In addition, 2021’s dominant ATC winner, Taiyo Furusato, claimed a maiden Moto3™ podium with a P2 finish in Thailand, while Sasaki was only seven points away from being crowned Moto3™ World Champion following a year where he could boast 11 podiums, including a win in Valencia.

Already in 2024, Furusato has stood on the podium in Moto3™ as he and nine other riders – Ogura, Chantra, Sasaki, Öncü, Mario Aji, Senna Agius, Yamanaka, Tatchakorn Buasri and Jacob Roulstone – all continue to fly the flag for the ATC.

Our most recent ATC Champion, Veda Pratama, became the first Indonesian rider to win the Cup in 2023. Now, he’s on the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup grid in 2024 as he moves up the Road to MotoGP™.

Who will take the torch next? The first round in Qatar was a stunner, and the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup will return to action later this season to make more history alongside MotoGP™.

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