The leader of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup has won the first race in Motegi ahead of Ogura and Salim.
The Japanese rider Ayumu Sasaki consolidated his position as leader of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup after victory in Motegi, ahead of compatriot Ai Ogura and Indonesian Gerry Salim.
The day began very early, Qualifying kicking off at 8:15 am. During the session Sasaki was fastest, beating the lap record with a 2’02.208, qualifying ahead of Kunimine and Izdihar.
The fall of Alex De Angelis in MotoGP™ FP4 caused the start of the race to be delayed and for race distance to be reduced from 15 to 10 laps. The change in distance resulted in a complete alteration to race strategy for the field, their contest becoming almost a sprint race.
In the early stages of the race Masaki and Date fell back, the group losing two of the favourite riders. But still the fighting was close between those who remained. The compact peloton consisted of seven riders, some, such as Salim and Atiratphuvapat, were very active in pushing for positions and made up a lot of the ground after the race start.
Sasaki showed great skill in the lead, but encountered stiff opposition from Ogura who battled lap after lap and was very strong on the brakes after the circuit’s long back straight. It appeared as though this point would decide the race, and this proved correct, but a masterstroke of strategy from Sasaki saw the Japanese rider completely change his approach from previous laps. He focused on getting a good run into and out of the infamous last chicane at Motegi, his plan working to perfection as he took his third win of the year. Behind, Ogura managed to keep second position and was oblivious of the fight for third, which Salim won.
Sasaki’s victory, alongside the sixth place finish on Kunimine, sees the gap at the top of the championship table grow to 44-points. Mathematically, Sasaki could be crowned champion of the 2015 Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup during Sunday’s race if he can finish 7-points ahead of Kunimie.
Alberto Puig, Director of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup: “It was very exciting at the end. I think the riders did a good job. The battle at the end between Ai and Ayumu was really close. It was good. Pace is not super fast but it is acceptable. The last laps were very interesting. I think Ayumu made a very difficult overtake in that area, but he managed to do it, congratulations to all three for their fantastic job”
Tomorrow’s second race is scheduled to start at 15:45 Local Time (GMT +9) at Motegi and can be seen here.