The number 7 seals it with a win at Sepang, with Mitani and Ogiwara completing the podium
Indonesia, a new star is born! Veda Pratama is the 2023 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup winner after a record-equalling seventh victory of the season in Race 2 at the Petronas Sepang International Circuit saw the Indonesian crowned Champion in style. Zen Mitani and Ryota Ogiwara joined Pratama on the podium as the rostrum fight went to the final corner.
After a rare mistake in Race 1, Pratama’s points advantage was cut to 55 points from 74 ahead of Race 2 – but it was now just Saturday’s winner Amon Odaki and Jakkreephat Phuettisan who could mathematically catch the #7. Starting from P5, the task wasn’t going to be easy but Pratama got a phenomenal launch and by Turn 4, the race lead was his.
The group behind, which included Odaki, fought back as the lead began to change several times on each lap. However, once Pratama hit the front on Lap 5 of 11 – and after Odaki made a small but costly mistake at Turn 6 – the lead stretched out. 0.5s rose to a second, and then in a couple of laps it was up to two. Pratama had got his head down and was gone. Now it was all about bringing it home.
Tried as they might, Pratama’s advantage was too big for the likes of Odaki, Riichi Takahira, Ogiwara and Mitani to bridge. For those riders, it was all about trying to finish on the podium. For Pratama though, victory number seven was in sight – and more importantly, so was the title. Pratama made no mistake in becoming Indonesia’s first Asia Talent Cup title winner, and with it becoming the highest-scoring rider in a single season ever – and there’s still two more races to go.
Mitani’s well-timed Turn 15 inside swoop saw the Japanese rookie return to the podium, with Ogiwara finally grabbing his first podium of the season in P3. Takahira’s wait for a rostrum since Round 1 goes on as the Japanese rider finished a close P4, with Odaki’s hopes of taking the title fight to Qatar unfortunately ending with a P5 finish in Race 2.
Levi Russo won the P6 fight as Phuettisan’s run of three consecutive podiums comes to an end with a P7 result. Marianos Nikolis, Hafizd Fahril Rasyadan and Kiattisak Singhapong completed the top 10.
Two races remain in the 2023 season as we head to the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar. The title is Pratama’s, now it’s all about who can end the season strongest.