Japanese rider Kaito Toba has won the inaugural Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup after finishing third in the final race of the season at Sepang, whilst his main rival Yuta Date crashed on the first lap.
The last of nine races in the first season of the competition got underway at midday local time at the Shell Advance Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, with all the focus on those two riders, Toba and Date - separated by just two points in the standings as they lined up on the grid.
The third rider who arrived at Sepang with a title chance, Ayumu Sasaki, crashed in Saturday’s race 8 of the season and broke his wrist, meaning he was unable to race on Sunday.
At the race start, Thai rider Muklada Sarapuech got away brilliantly to lead, despite starting eighth on the grid. But midway through the first lap Sarapuech went to ground just in front of Date, who also fell. Date managed to rejoin the race but his championship chances had slipped away.
A front-running group gradually pulled clear to contest the lead, with Toba, Takuma Kunimine and the winner of Saturday’s race Shafiq Rasol joined by Adam Norrodin towards the end of the race.
Kunimine judged the hot conditions best of all, crossing the finish line first and securing his first win of the year. Rasol was second and Toba’s third place ensured him the championship.
The inaugural 2014 edition of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup produced an intense and exciting competition between the 22 young participants, as they raced in Qatar, China, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia.
Preparations for the 2015 season gather momentum on Monday with the first of two days of the Selection Event, also at Sepang, where the riders hoping to take part in next year’s competition will show their intentions to turn potential into performance.