The Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup is a gateway for young Asian riders aiming to race in MotoGP. After a 2020 season that ended after the opening round due to COVID, and a 2021 season where some races were canceled due to the pandemic, 2022 went largely according to schedule, with six rounds / 11 races hosted.
Japanese riders dominate podium in season-opener
The opening round was held in March, coinciding with the MotoGP Qatar GP. Race 1 was a battle between three Japanese riders up to the very end, with rookie Shinya Ezawa edging out Gun Mie by a mere 0.04 seconds to finish first, followed by Amon Odaki in third place, 0.059 seconds behind. In tRace 2, Odaki won his first IATC race, overcoming a battle for the lead that had swelled to a 10-way battle.
The second round, coinciding with the MotoGP Indonesia GP, was also a chaotic affair. In Race 1, Hakim Danish (Malaysia) won after Mie, who had finished on the podium in the previous round, crashed, Odaki also retired. After two races, Danish led in the championship standings, with Ezawa trailing by one point.
Title contender Ezawa wins at home round
After a break of almost six months, Round 3 was held at Mobility Resort Motegi on September. Two races were scheduled, but due to rain on Saturday moving the MotoGP schedule, only one race was held on Sunday. Despite a tight battle for the lead, Ezawa fended off Danish and Hamad Al-Saousi (Qatar) to take the win, just 0.061 seconds ahead of Danish in second place.
Round 4 was held the following week in Thailand. In Race 1, the four-rider duel went right down to the final turn, with Danish in first place by 0.046 seconds, followed by Veda Pratama (Indonesia) in second, and Mie in third place by the narrowest of margins.
In Race 2, Pratama made a mid-race spurt to open up a 7-second gap to take the checkered flag and his first win of the season, with Mie, who was also on the podium in Race 1, in second and Thompson, who narrowly missed the podium in Race 1, in third. Ezawa, who is fighting for the championship, finished fourth, and Danish seventh. Danish, who won Race 1, headed into the two remaining rounds with a seven-point lead over Ezawa.
Title fight remains close into final round
The final round, Round 5 was held at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. In Race 1, Danish and Pratama, who had been performing well in the previous rounds, crashed out of the race. Carter Thompson (Australia), Mie, and Rei Wakamatsu fought a fierce three-way battle, with Thompson taking his first win.
In Race 2, Danish, who crashed in Race 1, outpaced Pratama to win by a narrow margin, winning his home race. Ezawa finished third, three points behind overall leader Danish.
Pratama dominates home races in Indonesia
The final round of the season was held in Indonesia. In Race 1, hometown favorite Pratama won by a 7 second gap in a dominating performance. Ezawa and Danish were in a tight battle behind, but Thompson overtook both when they went wide on the last lap to take second place. Danish held off Ezawa to finish third and extend his lead to six points heading into Race 2.
The championship went down to the line in Race 2, and it was Pratama who took the win in this final battle, following his victory in Race 1. Danish and Ezawa finished second and third, giving Danish the championship.
This season's IATC was full of non-stop, heated and closely contested races, with five winners in 11 races. Among them, Danish, with four wins and consistent results, became the first Malaysian champion. Ezawa was second overall with two wins, and Pratama, who had a great run in the second half of the season, was third.
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