Three of the top-five finishers in last year’s Moto2 World Championship move into MotoGP this year, allowing a new generation of youngsters to aim for the Moto2 title in 2021.
At least, most of them are youngsters, but the man who was fastest at the end of Losail testing was Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who is contesting his seventh season in Moto2. The 30-year-old led the way by a fraction, with the fastest five riders separated by just two tenths of a second.
Second quickest was 22-year-old Italian Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex), just 0.013 slower, followed by 23-year-old Australian Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), 25-year-old Briton Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing Kalex) and 23-year-old Spaniard Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing Kalex).
Among the rookies graduating from Moto3 to Moto2 is brilliant Japanese youngster Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex), who finished third in last year’s Moto3 World Championship.
Ogura had a superb 2020, only his second season in World Championship racing, during which he scored seven podiums to end the year just behind champion Albert Arenas (Aspar Team Speed Up) and Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex), who are also on the Moto2 grid this year.
Moto2 riders have had more preseason testing than the MotoGP class, with sessions a Jerez, Spain, and Portimao, Portugal, before a three-day outing at Losail which concluded on Sunday. Ogura has used his track time wisely, working to adapt himself to a more than doubly powerful Moto2 bike. The 20-year-old from Tokyo is still learning, of course, but he certainly knows his way around Losail – he finished last year’s Qatar Moto3 race in third place, just 0.344 seconds behind winner Arenas. He was 12th in testing, less than seven tenths of a second off the fastest rider.
Ogura’s team-mate during his rookie Moto2 season will be Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex), who contests his third season in the category. The 22-year-old Thai rider had some great rides last season, including a superb ride to ninth at the French GP. This year Chantra aims to put the lessons he’s learned into scoring regular top-ten results.