Japanese rider leads the charge at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
The Asia Talent Team took some top finishes in round three of the FIM CEV Repsol Junior Moto3™ World Championship in 2017, with representation in the top four in both races. Race 1 saw polesitter Kazuki Masaki take P4 and Yuki Kunii complete the top five, with Masaki repeating his impressive performance in the second race of the day to take another fourth place – incredibly close to the podium.
With reigning Asia Talent Cup winner Somkiat Chantra not present following a crash during Friday Free Practice, it was left to Masaki, Kunii, Ai Ogura and Andi Farid – returning from injury – to take the points for the Asia Talent Team. Race day was dry and hot with the sun high in the sky – as could be expected – with Masaki ready to lead the charge from an impressive pole position, just ahead of compatriot Ogura.
Race 1 saw Masaki fighting at the front throughout, battling it out with Yuki Kunii for Asia Talent Team supremacy. The two Japanese riders were part of the lead rider train for the first race, in another classic, close Moto3™ contest. By the final lap, the two were dueling it out between them and the two Asia Talent Team riders saw the flag almost neck and neck - separated by only a few hundredths as they crossed the line in P5 and P6. A penalty of five seconds for Dennis Foggia ahead of the two then moved the Asia Talent Team riders up to be classified fourth and fifth.
Race 2 saw Masaki lead the charge once more, as well as another star turn from Kunii. The two Japanese riders again were a key presence in the top echelons of the race, and both looked set to challenge for the podium. Kunii staked his claim on the trophy by fighting up into the lead mid-race, then dropping back initially before moving forwards once again. The Japanese rider then sadly crashed out of P1 at just over two-thirds distance - leaving Masaki to fly the Asia Talent Team flag in the front group. The Japanese rider pushed hard to try and take his first rostrum finish of the year, and crossed the line only 0.006 behind Jaume Masia in an incredibly close finish at the flag.
Andi Farid made his return from injury to back up his solid qualifying pace in the early stages of Race 1 before crashing out in an incident with another rider, with the Indonesian then coming home in P27 after a difficult Race 2 with incidents ahead on track faltering his progress. Ai Ogura, after an impressive early showing to match his Saturday pace, was another to come together with another rider in Race 1 to suffer a DNF. Ogura then didn’t start Race 2, sitting it out to focus on getting back to 100% for the next round.
Alberto Puig, Asia Talent Team Director: “The riders showed their potential in the race, Kunii was very strong and even if he couldn’t finish, for me it’s the best race he has done for us and I’m really happy. He crashed, but this is part of the learning process and he showed character and potential, and also Ai Ogura. He showed he has character trying to go on the bike when he is quite injured, and with Masaki let’s say they’re good overall results. Andi wasn’t so lucky in both races but now we’re already thinking of the next round.”
That next round sees the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship head to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia for the fourth race weekend of the year, with action on the 7-9th July.