The Indonesian equals his best ever finish in fourth as both JTT riders battle it out at the front in Portugal
The Junior Talent Team started the 2021 season on a high at the Circuito do Estoril, with both Mario Aji and Takuma Matsuyama fighting it out for the podium and win throughout. Over the line, Aji was the top JTT finisher as the Indonesian missed out on his first rostrum by just 0.060, instead equalling his best finish yet of fourth. Matsuyama was just behind the number 16 and crossed the line in sixth.
As the lights went out it was Matsuyama making his mark first, the Japanese rider holding position from his front row start and getting his elbows out. Initially there was a two-rider break at the front and it looked like the group fight would be for third, but Matsuyama made his way to the front of the chasing pack and reeled in the duel ahead, creating a five-rider fight at the front. Meanwhile, Aji was tagged to David Alonso as the two also made inroads, with the race bubbling up to a seven-rider fight for the win.
By the last lap it was Aji who'd taken the JTT baton and the Indonesian fought hard for third, thinking about a move up the inside late on but instead tucking in on the run to the line. It was close, but the number 16 was just 0.060 off his first podium as he's forced to settle for fourth. Matsuyama, despite leading earlier in the race, wasn't quite able to get back to the front of the group and crossed the line in sixth, but it's a top finish for both as they begin 2021.
Tatchakorn Buasri made some good inroads on race day too, the Thai rider looking for points from his P19 grid position and getting the job done. He took P15 and the final point by just over a tenth, starting the season on solid footing. Rookie Eddie O'Shea also moved forward on Sunday. His best lap in the race was half a second quicker than qualifying as he made the most of dry track time, and it was a solid start for the Brit as he took on Estoril with the JTT for the first time in P27.
That's it from the opener, with the FIM CEV Repsol and JTT back in action next at Valencia in two weeks - and for two races! Can the JTT get on the podium next time out? The Circuit Ricardo Tormo will tell all...