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Kunii takes victory in Valencia – and the Championship lead

28 Apr 2019

A first win of the year and a close second place at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo put the JTT rider ahead of the rest

Yuki Kunii took a stunning victory in Race 1 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, escaping in a duel at the front and coming out on top to cross the line several seconds clear of the fight for second in the first race of the day. The good news kept coming in Race 2 as well as the Japanese rider was once again a key protagonist in a duel for the win, although this time he just missed out to compatriot Ryusei Yamanaka at the final corner. The first and second places for Kunii put him at the top of the Championship standings, however, with the Junior Talent Team rider ahead of Xavier Artigas by a point after Round 2.

Much like the sublime weather and sunny skies under which Kunii took pole on Saturday, race day gave the grid perfect conditions for some top quality racing on Sunday and the Japanese rider used them to full effect. They also helped his rookie stablemates get some more experience as they take on the Moto3™ Junior World Championship, and in Race 1 the first home behind Kunii was Max Cook as the British Talent Team rider once again took points, as he did in Estoril. Cook was P15 in Race 1, but just ahead of Mario Aji in P16 by only 0.381. Reigning Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup rider Bill Van Eerde, returning from injury, got his first race finished down the order in P25, with 2017 and 2018 IATC runner up Haruki Noguchi failing to finish. The tables would turn later in the day, though.

In Race 2 as Kunii once again streaked away in the fight for the win, the rookies put in some strong showings. This time it was Haruki Noguchi who did an impressive job to take P11 on only his second ever race – having missed Estoril through injury – for some points on the board and a lot of valuable track time. That’s something Mario Aji also has after Round 2. Although the Indonesian missed out in Valencia and wasn’t able to repeat his P4 of the season opener, he was close to the fight for the points in terms of time and crossed the line in P18.

In Race 2 there was some back luck for some of the ranks, however. Max Cook was caught up in a crash when fighting for points and was taken out, and Van Eerde crashed and wasn’t able to finish the race either. They’ll be looking to bounce back quickly as the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship sets sights on Le Mans alongside the French Grand Prix next time out, where Yuki Kunii will arrive onto the biggest stage of the season as the Championship leader on the 18th May.