Ten Australian junior motorcycle road racers have been chosen to compete in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup selection event to be held in Sepang, Malaysia, on October 29.
More than 400 junior riders from 19 countries applied online to compete in the Asia Talent Cup selection event, in the hopes of being chosen for the 2020 event.
Applicants for the selection event were shortlisted to 120 junior racers, aged 11 to 20.
The 10 selected Australian junior riders were all part of the Oceania Junior Cup (OJC), which is both a junior road racing academy (because it provides training for the junior competitors) and is also part of the Australian championship.
The Oceania Junior Cup (OJC) made its Australian road-racing debut in 2019 and is a type of championship that Australia had never seen before.
One of the significant differences in this championship is that every participant rides an identical Yamaha R15 150cc motorbike, which is provided by the championship organisers.
Another is that the event has gotten a lot more juniors competing in road racing than ever before.
In addition, the OJC is unlike any junior road racing program that had been run in Australia in the past, because it was officially named a “Road to MotoGP” program, gaining the support of Dorna Sports S.L, who are the commercial rights holders and promoters of the MotoGP, as well as the FIM Superbike World Championship, the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, and the British Talent Cup.
Receiving that level of support from Dorna means the future looks bright for rising Australian road racing stars who race in the Oceania Junior Cup championship onboard a Yamaha 150cc.
Oceania Junior Cup category manager Martin Port said the Cup’s organisers had originally built a three-year plan for the start-up championship.
Mr Port said the Oceania Junior Cup had already far exceeded the team organisers’ expectations based on their three-year plan in terms of the level of support they would receive.
“We originally were expecting five children from the OJC [Oceania Junior Cup] to be selected [for the Asia Talent Cup], and when Dorna extended their offer to 10 applicants [to compete in the selection event] instead, that was just icing on the cake,” he said.
Eleven-year-old Carter Thompson is one of the youngest championship contenders in the Oceania Junior Cup and will also be one of the youngest racers at the Asia Talent Cup selection event.
Carter’s father, Nathan Thompson, said it was surprising Carter was even selected for the Asia Talent Cup event, given his young age.
“Up until two months ago, Carter didn’t meet the age criteria for the Asia Talent Cup,” Mr Thompson said.
“The organisers of the selection event changed the age bracket only two months before entries closed, and with the change of age meant he only just met the criteria,” he said.
Carter Thompson has only been competing in road racing for several months, but in that time he has shown that he is a fierce contender, despite his small stature.
Carter made history by becoming the first rider to win a race in the Oceania Junior Cup at Wakefield Park Raceway.
He is currently leading the Oceania Junior Cup championship by a nine-point margin over 12-year-old Angus Grenfell.
“It would be great to win the championship in my first year of road racing,” Carter said.
“We still have two rounds left and I’ll be fighting pretty hard [for the win], and I am pretty confident that I can do it,” he said.
However, Angus Grenfell, who is currently sitting in second place overall in the Oceania Junior Cup, said he believed he had a good chance of winning the Cup.
Angus said he had been doing well in the OJC championship before round four in Winton.
“I had a large lead in the [OJC] championship before Winton,” Angus said.
“I won race one and two of the weekend by a large margin, but then I was unlucky in the third race and crashed,” he said.
“I lost the lead in the championship, but we still have two rounds to go… I’m confident I can close the nine point gap from Carter and win [the OJC championship].”
The young rivals still have two rounds to go of the OJC, which finishes in November.
The pair will also be going head-to-head to compete for a position in the Asia Talent Cup selection event next month.
Angus said receiving the news he was selected to take part in the Asia Talent Cup selection event was a surreal feeling.
“I have such a busy October now,” Angus said.
“I was also one of two Oceania Junior Cup competitors to be selected to compete in the Red Bull Rookies Cup selection event held in Spain on October 15,” he said.
Angus said he would like to get selected for a place in either of the two championships he is up for.
“I would love to get into either the Asia Talent Cup or Red Bull Rookies championship, or even [be selected for] both of the championships like Billy Van Eerde did two years ago,” he said.
“Being chosen to race in either of these championships heightens my chances of getting onto a team in CEV [Spanish Championship] and then Moto3 [World Championship] from there.”
“But if I don’t get selected for either, that’s okay as well… at least I had fun and gained experience of what it’s like to race overseas,” Angus said.
Competition for the Oceania Junior Cup has been fierce.
Although the riders are all very young, ranging in age from 11 to 16, this doesn’t appear to be getting in the way of their ability on track.
One rider who is not fazed by the global spotlight that comes with representing Australia overseas is Oceania Junior Cup competitor and Asia Talent Cup selectee, Patrick Bognar.
The 16 year old is talented when it comes to racing anything with two-wheels, whether it is motorised or not.
“I represented Australia not long ago when I competed in Belgium for the BMX World Championship and finished in the top 16 out of 100 riders,” Patrick said.
“When I heard the news that I was selected for the Asia Talent Cup tryouts I was really shocked,” he said.
“I’ve only been riding [and racing] road bikes since February this year.”
Patrick said his results in his first year of road racing wouldn’t have improved as quickly as they did if it wasn’t for the coaching and support offered in the Oceania Junior Cup.
“If it wasn’t for the OJC, I don’t believe I would be where I am today, heading overseas and potentially representing Australia once again in another sport,” Patrick said.
Twelve-year-old Lucas Quinn, who was also chosen for this year’s Asia Talent Cup selection event, said he too owed his results this year to the support given in the Oceania Junior Cup.
“This is just my first year competing in road racing… [and] I couldn’t believe I was selected for the Asia Talent Cup,” Lucas said.
“The OJC helped me in progressing my skills [in road racing] quickly,” he said.
“When I first started in February, I was unsure of a few things like how to turn into corners or apexes,” Lucas said.
“But all of their coaching has been really helpful, and my results have improved a lot during the year,” he said.
The 10 Australian riders selected from the Oceania Junior Cup will be hitting the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on October 29 for the two-day Asia Talent Cup selection event.