Indonesian impresses to head compatriot Putra, with drama for Championship leader Nishimura
Afridza Munandar took a commending second win of the season at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, staying clear of a chaotic fight at the front in the final laps to take home 25 points and take over second in the standings. Compatriot Adenanta Putra followed him home, with Thai rider Warit Thongnoppakun taking his second rostrum of the finish in third after escaping some final corner drama.
Sho Nishimura took the holeshot from pole, but Takuma Matsuyama was quick to attack back and the two headed up a five-rider fight at the front, with Thongnoppakun, Shoki Igarashi and Adenanta Putra in the mix. There was a small gap back to Tatchakorn Buasri on the chase, and eventual winner Afridza Munandar was soon challenging too.
With Matsuyama streaking away at the front, it was Munandar who sliced through to start reeling the number 11 in with a show of intent and he did just that; the freight train at the front then appearing again and 12 riders within 1.8 seconds.
With eight laps to go, big drama hit for Matsuyama. Running off and then making contact with another rider on track, the number 11 fell from the front fight and the initial pacesetter was out. That left Munandar in the lead at the front of the group, with Nishimura in second and home hero Syarifuddin Azman having sliced through into third.
As the group kept chopping and changing and the laps ticked down, however, it was Thongnoppakun who managed to escape the melee to stay with Munandar and the duo began to pull away. Heading onto the final lap, the Indonesian had half a second in his pocket and that would prove a crucial gap.
Although those behind managed to close in, no one could attack Munandar into the final corner – and the final corner was where the attack happened. Azman, gunning for a home podium, tried a move on Nishimura but the Malaysian tagged the back of the Japanese rider, taking them both down and out of podium contention.
Munandar crossed the line in clear air, Thongnoppakun was able to avoid the drama and, despite losing time, made his way back on track to gun it to the line – but he was beaten to it as Adenanta Putra pipped him to the post, the podium decided in dramatic fashion.
Harrison Voight took his best finish yet in fourth after a good weekend for the Australian, ahead of Hildhan Kusuma who completed the top five. Tatchakorn Buasri took P6 ahead of Piyawat Patoomyos, with Abdul Mutaqim crossing the line in eighth.
Jacob Roulstone headed the next group and beat home hero Idil Mahadi to ninth, with Luke Power, Rei Wakamatsu, Kadir Erbay and wildcard Shinji Ogo completing the finishers. Igarashi and Herjun Firdaus suffered DNFs.
It’s a long wait for the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup until the next round alongside MotoGP™ at Buriram now, but it’s still Sho Nishimura who leads the way despite Day 2 at Sepang not going his way. Who will be strongest when the field return to the fray? Find out in October.