The Japanese rider took a runaway victory in the first race of the weekend ahead of Izdihar and Date.
Takuma Kunimine of Japan was the chief rider in the first race of the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup weekend, the event run at the Sepang International Circuit alongside the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Kunimine, who had dominated all the practice sessions, established a commanding lead with Indonesian Andi Izdihar and fellow Japanese rider Yuta Date behind, the trio filling out the podium at the race’s close.
The race, run over 13 laps, had many changes throughout its running. In the early laps it appeared as though a small group involving Kunimine, Salim, Sasaki, Date and Izdihar could open a gap to the chasing group, which was led by Masaki.
Unfortunately for this pack, their close fighting only slowed down their pace and allowed another six riders to join the leading group by the fifth lap.
The laps continued to roll and were free of major incident, only Ogura falling, but the lead was constantly in flux. With equal machinery, no pilot could escape and the layout of Sepang itself also helped to keep the group together, the two long straight providing a great slipstreaming opportunity.
On the eighth lap it was Kunimine who took the initiative and began to distance himself by just over a second. With a small lead the Japanese pilot was able to focus on his own lines and the gap to the chasing group began to grow with Kunimine taking a well-deserved victory.
The excitement became centred on the battle for the remaining podium places, which saw ten riders locked in a tough fight. Finally it was Izdihar and Date who took to the podium steps with ten riders crossing the line within 1.7seconds.
With this win, Kunimine now has a variety of options to clinch the runner-up spot, as his rival Masaki was sixth. The points difference between the two stands at 15 points in favour of Kunimine.
Alberto Puig: “A clear victory for Kunimine, he was clearly faster all weekend. It looked in the beginning as if there was going to be a small group, I think the pace it was not fast. The second group caught, then the group was bigger. In one way it is good, because they didn’t crash, from this group we expected some crashes in the last lap, but on the other way the rhythm was not super fast. In the last lap nothing happened in this massive group, I don’t know how they managed to go into the last corner. I expect tomorrow a faster race.”
The Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup will come to an end on Sunday after an intense and exciting season.