Race 1 sees three Japanese riders fight it out to the final corner, with a rookie emerging victorious by just 0.040
The first Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup race of the season came down to the three-way fight for victory at Lusail International Circuit, with two rookies vs a veteran right down to the wire. In the end it was Shinya Ezawa who came out on top, crossing the line just 0.040 ahead of more veteran compatriot Gun Mie, with Amon Odaki completing the podium and still just 0.059 off the top.
Odaki started from pole but the rookie didn't get the best start, dropping a few positions and into an immediate group that formed at the front. There was some early drama then for three riders, with Marianos Nikolis, Kavin Quintal and Aan Riswanto going down and a number of other riders losing some time. But all riders ok, and the fight at the front became the classic freight train.
Some more incidents would prove decisive, however. Emil Izdhar crashed out, and Veda Ega Pratama and Thanat Laoongplio then tangled. As the big group thundered on, with different riders seeming to take a turn at the front but the group then fight back, there were two more slices of drama coming. The first saw Carter Thompson, Rei Wakamatsu and Thanakorn Lakharn all crash out together and out of the front group, leaving a handful of riders to fight for the podium, and then there was a huge moment for Hakim Danish. That settled it: Odaki, Mie and Ezawa would be fighting it out for the win.
It went right to the final corner, with Mie attacking Odaki up the inside - sending the rookie wide - but that ultimately cost both. Ezawa was able to exit smoothly onto the start-finish straight and keep it tucked it in towards the flag, just staying ahead as Mie and Odaki homed in with the slipstream. It wasn't enough for the chasing duo, and Ezawa wins Race 1 of 2022 and takes the early points lead. Mie just pipped Odaki to second.
After the crashes earlier in the race and the huge moment for Danish, fourth place became a two-way fight between the Malaysian, who dropped back, and Qatari wildcard Hamad al-Sahouti. The local rider just came out on top, with just 0.015 between the duo over the line.
Farish Hafiy took sixth in a lonelier it of space on track, with Jakkreephat Phuettisan another victim of drama after an impressive push early on, the Thai rookie taking seventh. Reykay Fadillah had a lonelier finish in P8, with a close battle to complete the top ten seeing Farres Putra just pip Diandra Trihardika at the flag.
That's a wrap on the first race of the season, but the ATC will be back on Sunday. Tune in for more in Race 2 at 11:50 (GMT +3) – live on the ATC channel on YouTube.