Back on track at the classic Japanese venue as the final two events of the year get ready to rumble
There remain 100 points on the table in the 2017 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, so it’s very much everything to play for as the grid arrive at the Twin Ring Motegi to race alongside MotoGP™. 50 points are in play at the Japanese venue, before the final 50 are handed out two weeks later at Sepang International Circuit – meaning the pressure is on for the final countdown.
Currently ahead is home hero Haruki Noguchi, who arrives with 111 points – just nine ahead of his nearest rival, Deniz Öncü of Turkey. Ryusei Yamanaka is on 98, Can Öncü on 97, and Malaysian Azroy Anuar isn’t far behind on 93. Yuki Kunii is the rider in sixth, with 85 points, as the top six pull clear of those on the chase. But Japanese rider Kunii will be coming back from injury, so that could play a big part in the outcome of his home races.
Motegi hosts two races around the six left- and eight right-handed corners that make up the 4.8km venue, with hard braking and acceleration sure to give the field a challenge. With so much Japanese representation on the grid, it’s more than simply the Cup and points that are in play – it’s also home glory for many, or the chance to strike on enemy turf for others.
Last season, it was a Japanese lockout on the podium in Race 1, with Kunii on the top step and joined by Kazuki Masaki - recently crowned 2017 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion - and Ai Ogura, who just won his first race in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship. Ogura won Race 2, with Yamanaka coming second to improve on his P4 in Race 1 - and Masaki completing the podium to show the incredible level of the Idemitsu Talent Cup and its graduates.
Race 1 gets underway at 16:15 (GMT +9) on Saturday, with the second stunning instalment on Sunday at 15:30.