Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) faces another weekend of learning as he prepares for his first race at the Circuit of the Americas as a Moto2 rider. But the class rookie has already proved adept at adapting to tracks on bigger machinery, as evidenced by his excellent results this year.
The 20-year-old from Tokyo sits eighth in the World Championship after a recent run of ten top-nine results in the last 13 outings. He still has a realistic shot at climbing the World Championship standings before the season’s final round at Valencia, as he stands just 15 points off fifth place.
Ogura arrives in America full of confidence after another fine outing at Misano, where he finished seventh, just six seconds behind the race winner. On his previous visit to this track in 2019 he was making only his third appearance as a full-time rider in the Moto3 class. He still managed 11th place, despite this being a notoriously difficult track to learn.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) is keen to bounce back from a tough race at Misano, where he crashed out at high speed. The 22-year-old Thai rider was once again fighting for World Championship points, however, underlining his impressive recent form. Chantra has visited COTA just once before, in 2019, when he was a Moto2 rookie.
The 2021 Moto2 World Championship has settled into a two-rider race as Australian Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) holds a 34-point lead over team-mate Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) with 100 points left to play. This weekend should provide another tough challenge to Fernandez, a class rookie, who, like Ogura, has to learn the 20-turn track for the first time on a Moto2 machine. Gardner has raced at COTA before, finishing 11th in 2019.
Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) is mathematically still in the title hunt, 81 points back of the championship leader, but harbours no realistic ambitions after two tough races at Aragon and Misano, where he suffered a crash and a fifth place.
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Kalex), the man who sits fourth overall, may be out of the championship fight, but he should be one to watch this weekend, after taking his maiden Grand Prix win at COTA in 2015.
After Sunday’s Texan race the series returns to Europe for the final three races of the year held over four weeks. The Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli will host the first of those on 24th October.