Ezawa holds off Danish to take victory and the points lead
The Japanese rider takes the single race win on the table at Motegi
For the second time this season, rookie Shinya Ezawa is a race winner in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup after the Japanese rider pipped title rival Hakim Danish to victory in a dramatic Sunday morning encounter at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. Hamad Al-Sahouti produced some great late race pace to pick up a second rostrum of the season in third.
The polesitter for Round 3 of the campaign was Gun Mie and the Japan star made a great start, as did Carter Thompson from the spearhead of the second row. However, down at Turn 11 in the early stages, the two made contact. Mie swept across late on the brakes when defending the lead from Thompson, and the latter crashed out – thankfully unhurt. The contact was judged to have been Mie’s fault as he moved over, meaning a Long Lap penalty was handed to the double 2022 podium finisher and the race was on to move forward again.
The likes of Ezawa, Danish, Rei Wakamatsu and Jakkreephat Phuettisan were well in the hunt for a podium, with Al-Sahouti just hanging off the back of the leaders – with Mie recovering quickly from his Long Lap. The latter picked the pack off one by one and found himself back in the lead but more drama would unfold for the number 5 soon after. While leading – and pushing – Mie went down at Turn 9, out of contention after looking so strong and leaving a group of five riders to battle it out for victory in Motegi.
That group was made up of Danish, Ezawa, Wakamatsu, Phuettisan and the fast-progressing Al-Sahouti. The Qatari rider pounced up to the lead for the first time in the closing stages as we set ourselves for a grandstand finish, with Ezawa leading Danish and Al-Sahouti. A mistake on the exit of Turn 8 cost Danish time and despite clawing some of the advantage back in the final sector, Ezawa held on by just 0.061s to pocket both the win and Cup standings lead.
Al-Sahouti’s late charge ended with him taking third spot on the podium, that’s his second top three of the season and first since the opening round in Qatar. Wakamatsu and Phuettisan finished less than a second away from victory in P4 and P5 respectively, while sixth place Vega Ega Pratama produced a stunning comeback ride to finish P6 after starting from the back of the grid and having to contend with a double Long Lap.
Amon Odaki, Marianos Nikolis, Thanakorn Lakharn and Farres Putra completed the top 10 in Motegi.
That was a wrap on the Japanese round, with logistical issues obliging the cancellation of Race 2. The field now head for Buriram in Thailand for another showdown, with action back underway on Friday.