74 points in hand, four races to go – can anyone stop the Indonesian from claiming the 2023 title in Sepang this weekend?
Round 5 of the 2023 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup brings us back to Malaysia as the stunning Sepang International Circuit – the host of Round 1 earlier in the year – gets set to stage a potentially title deciding weekend, with Veda Pratama looking to claim the crown having left Buriram boasting a 74-point advantage over Jakkreephat Phuettisan.
Pratama’s P5 and P1 results back in Thailand, coupled with Race 2 misfortune for Zen Mitani, saw the #7’s points lead climb to that previously stated very healthy margin. To win the title in Race 1, all Pratama must do is hold a 75-point or more lead over his rivals at the finish – and if that doesn’t happen on Saturday afternoon, then Pratama needs to be 50 points clear after Sunday’s Race 2.
With Pratama already claiming P2 and a victory in Malaysia back at the opening round, the odds are in his favour. However, that won’t stop his chief rivals Phuettisan, Mitani and Amon Odaki from trying to make the momentum pendulum swing back in their favour. Phuettisan comes to Malaysia fresh off the back off a double podium at his home race in Thailand, including a debut win – all that means confidence is at an all-time high for the #20, who is now P2 in the standings.
Rookie star Mitani will be keen to bounce back from his Thai Race 2 disappointment at a track he already has two podiums at in the ATC already. A pair of P3s was the Japanese rider’s results back at the season opener, is a first win on the horizon this weekend?
Odaki’s double Buriram podium means it’s now four races in a row the Japanese rider has been either P2 or P3. Now – much like Mitani – it’s all about getting that P1 signed, sealed and delivered. And what about Riichi Takahira? The #9 hasn’t tasted podium success since Round 1 where he won on Saturday and finished second on Sunday in Sepang. A repeat of that will go down nicely for the Japanese rider.
Watch out for our home heroes this weekend too, as Farish Hafiy, Farres Putra, Ahmad Darwisy and Adi Putra go in search of great weekends in front of the Malaysian fans.
Tune into Race 1 at 16:10 local time (GMT+8) on Saturday afternoon and Race 2 at 09:45 on Sunday morning!