SHELL announced that 22 riders have been chosen to compose the grid of Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup’s debut season in 2014. The selection process for the riders, who are set to compete aboard Honda NSR250 R race bikes, was held at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
According to Shell, 108 riders from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines took to the Sepang kart circuit on 125cc Honda Future underbone bikes, and were scrutinized by talent scout Alberto Puig, Shell Advance global marketing chief Andrew Hepher, Honda Racing Corp.’s Livio Suppo and Dorna Sports (rights holder of MotoGP) chief executive Carmelo Ezpeleta. After a final shootout, Puig gathered 42 riders, then whittled down the list further to the 22 successful candidates (plus three reserve riders), Shell said.
The riders’ ages range from 13 to 19 years old.
Chosen were Yuanhang Chen (China); Wilman Hammar, Andi Fadly an Basyiruddin Mashuri (Indonesia); Tsubasa Yoshida, Kaito Sekino, Yuta Date, Ryo Mizuno, Tsurugi Kitami, Ayumu Sasaki and Kaito Toba (Japan); Nakarin Atiratphuvapat, Somkiat Chantra and Muklada Sarapuech (Thailand); Nazirul Bahauddin, Muhammad Rasol, Muhamad Norrodin, Muhammad Azman, Fakhrusy Rostam and Mohammad Ezzariq (Malaysia); Ralph Torres (Philippines); and Azhar Noor (Singapore). Named as reserve drivers were Muhammad Hidayat (Indonesia), Shota Nakayama (Japan) and Muhammad Norrodin (Malaysia).
“We had riders from many countries and it was great to see,” Puig said. “I based the decisions on my intuition, as well as on the lap times. If the lap times are also on the same level as your thoughts, then you have the perfect combination.”
For his part, Hepfer called the Advance Asia Talent Cup as the “perfect platform to identify and support the very best motorcycle racing talent in Asia.”
Shell explained that Advance Asia Talent Cup will become a feeder series to international motorcycle racing and will help showcase Asian riding talent. The championship will consist of six rounds, with the first taking place at the Qatar round of the 2014 MotoGP season.