Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaro visited the final round of the SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE at Chang International Circuit in Thailand at the weekend as guest of honour and mentor to stars of the future, and potential world champions.
SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE (SAC) is SUZUKI’s rider development program for Asian riders. It is run in conjunction with the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) on single platform SUZUKI FU-150 machinery (called ‘Satria’ in Indonesia, ‘Belong’ in Malaysia, and ‘Raider’ in Thailand and Philippines). SAC is produced and managed by former MotoGP rider and World Superbike race winner, Yukio Kagayama.
This was Espargaro’s first visit to ARRC, and not only was he welcomed by the SAC riders and Team KAGAYAMA SUZUKI Asia, but by the whole paddock.
Said Espargaro: “This is my first time to ARRC and this circuit, but the welcome I have received so far has been great. I watched yesterday’s race and I was impressed by the high level of the riders here.”
During his two-day visit to the Buriram circuit, Espargaro made several media appearances, while also spending much time talking to and giving advice to the young SAC riders. “It is important for riders to have proper training while they are still at a young age. And to have a big brand like SUZUKI operate such a program is just awesome,” he added. “I went through a similar program when I was young and everything I learned there still has influences on me.”
After watching the second SAC race on Sunday, Espargaro joined the podium celebrations to present the trophy to the podium finishers. And at the Rider Advice Session, the Spaniard told stories from his experience as a rider. The SAC riders, in turn, had the opportunity to ask him questions, from riding style to training methods.
It was a memorable event for the young Asian riders to be able to talk to a MotoGP rider, take photos with him, and interact. “You never know, but one day, one of the riders here may be riding in my seat.” said Espargaro. “Although our bikes may be different, the fundamentals of racing is the same in any category.”
Making the weekend one that the SUZUKI ASIAN CHALLENGE riders will never forget, Espargaro said: “Train hard, race hard, and learn… and maybe one day you will be racing with me.”
Aleix Espargaro & SAC Images: CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS