HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Trần Đức Tài will become the first Vietnamese motorcycle racer to compete at the 2022 Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup next month, a milestone for Việt Nam motor racing.
The 19-year-old will compete in a six-round, 12-race season alongside MotoGP and WorldSBK events in Qatar, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.
The first event will be in Qatar on March 4-6 and the last one in Indonesia on November 11-13.
“Two years ago, I had no idea about motor racing. But after one season competing in an official tournament with effort and determination, I have been chosen to take part in the IATC,” Tài told Việt Nam News.
Born to race
Born in 2003 in a poor community in Biên Hòa City, Đồng Nai Province, Tài grew up in difficulties and had to quit school when he was 12, a sixth-grade student.
The young man had to do many jobs, being a porter, a coach driver’s assistant and a vehicle mechanic, to earn money for the family. His life was changed when his cousin, Cao Việt Nam, arranged for him to have a trial on the track in 2019, when he was 16.
Nam is currently the most famous motor racer in the country and has taken part in a range of international competitions, winning the Thailand Talent Cup in 2019.
Tài tested his skills in the preliminary round of the Việt Nam Motor Racing Championship (VMRC) in 2019 without a second of practice, though an unexpected mistake made him fall and he got no further.
The defeat did not disappoint the teenager, who in 2020, met no difficulty advancing to the VMRC’s final round and qualified for the Vietnam Talent Cup, a playground for young athletes between 15 and 18 years old.
The rider showed off his talents, finishing in second once and third-place twice, a total of three podiums.
His ability persuaded VMRC managers to nominate him and the winner Nguyễn Tôn Anh Phú to the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup’s (IATC) Selection Committee.
The IATC is the most prestigious motorcycle road racing tournament for top young talents in Asia and Oceania. It is designed to be a pathway to Moto3, Moto2 and finally MotoGP.
The race, which had its inaugural season in 2014, is organised by Dorna Sport, which also controls Grand Prix motorcycle racing and the Superbike World Championship.
Over 400 riders from 22 countries applied for an opportunity to earn a spot in the 2022 season.
Applications were analysed by the Selection Committee and 100 riders from 10 countries were invited to the Selection Event last October in Malaysia.
The shortlisted riders must demonstrate their skills and riding ability around Sepang Karting Circuit. The Selection Committee then met to analyse all the data and determine the final riders chosen to participate in the 2022 Cup.
Tài was picked and will race against 21 riders from Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India.
A preseason test at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit organised on February 25 and 26 got the grid ready to race ahead of the first round, which takes place on the same circuit alongside the Qatar GP on March 4-6.
From there, the IATC returns to Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit for the second round as the MotoGP paddock visits the Indonesian venue for the first time.
After a summer break, the IATC returns to action with back-to-back rounds alongside the Japanese and Thailand Grands Prix, taking on the Twin Ring Motegi and Chang International Circuit. Two weeks later, Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia hosts the fifth round, before Mandalika beckons once more for the season finale. There, the IATC will round out 2022 alongside the WorldSBK.
Asia, I am coming
“When I returned to the VMRC I told myself to perform my best so I would be selected and become a member of the Honda Racing Việt Nam Team,” Tài told Việt Nam News.
“The race was a miracle journey for me as I made mistake and dropped to seventh place, but I came back and raced with all of my determination and finally secured third position. What’s a race!” said Tài, who had only half of a day practice with the motorbike, in a racing suit borrowed from his cousin Nam.
“When I was supported and nominated for the Asian event, I again asked myself to work hard to grow as fast as possible, so that I would grab chances to compete internationally.
“I am happy and proud to be the first Vietnamese rider to compete at the IATC 2022,” said Tài.
“I actually don’t know why I was chosen, because I am really really new to this sport. I have not known many things and need to learn much more. Maybe, people saw my passion and potential and that I am a quick learner.”
The 19-year-old said he is going to face strong rivals, some of them have been racing a lot and grabbed high results.
“I am excited and can’t wait to race. I respect all rivals but am also confident and hope to learn from them too. I believe that the IATC will be a strong base for me to integrate into the world of racing in the near future,” he said. — VNS