The Japanese rider put on quite a show in Round 1. But can he do it again as the ATC returns to Losail International Circuit?
Taiyo Furusato was definitely the pre-race favourite at Round 1 of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup after topping testing and taking pole, but quite how true that would turn out to be was still an unknown before the lights went out. In Race 1 on Saturday though, the number 15 turned pole into a win by over 16 seconds, and on Sunday he did it again to cross the line nine seconds clear. So can he be stopped?
The answer, in racing, is always yes. It won’t be easy though, as the pace advantage dropped from Race 1 to Race 2 but stayed fairly formidable. The smaller deficit is good reading for the grid though, and there will likely be a simple mission on the cards for many as the lights go out for Rounds 3 and 4: stop Furusato getting the holeshot. Practice will be focused on progress, pouring over the data from Round 1 and trying to put it into practice and improve – the mission of the ATC and the Road to MotoGP™ – but getting ahead of Furusato early is likely the best chance, next time out, of trying to stay with him and fight it out.
There’s a strong group fighting just behind the number 15 already though, and they've laid some strong foundations to try and bridge the gap. The likes of Malaysian rookie superstar Hakim Danish, Japanese rider Gun Mie and his compatriot Kanta Hamada – the latter a winner at Losail last year – will be eager to make another step forward, as will Rei Wakamatsu, Carter Thompson and Danial Sharil as all made some solid Sunday progress last time out. And what about Fadillah Aditama? The Indonesian was third on the grid for Round 1 and then suffered a crash in each race, so we don’t know what he had in the locker late on. Where will he slot in if Round 2 brings some better luck?
Two impressive performances from Furusato backed up by some classic ATC battles for the podium got 2021 underway in style, and Round 2 sees the grid head back out just a week later to take on the same Losail International Circuit. Make sure to tune in to Race 1 at 16:35 (GMT +3) on Saturday before the final race in Qatar – for now – at 13:50 on Sunday.