Today’s Portuguese Moto2 race could hardly have been unluckier for team-mates Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) and Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex).
Ogura was in a three-rider fight for victory with Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing Kalex), with Chantra just behind, when a rain shower hit the northern part of the Algarve International Circuit, with all the riders using slick tyres.
The soaking turn two caused a multiple crash, which claimed 11 riders of the 30-rider grid, including Ogura, Chantra and most of the other leaders, who, of course, were the first to reach the damp part of the track. Chantra was a close eighth when he fell, despite taking a long-lap penalty.
Canet suffered a broken arm in his fall, while most of the other fallers were unable to repair their damaged bikes in time for the restart, which included only 17 riders.
The 21-year-old from Tokyo and the 23-year-old from Thailand therefore leave Portugal with zero points. However, because the incident claimed most of Moto2’s fastest riders, the pair’s championship positions haven’t been much affected. With five of 21 races completed they stand second and sixth in the points chase.
The race was restarted over seven laps, with victory going to 24-year-old American Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), the first American to win an intermediate World Championship race since John Kocinski won the 1990 Australian 250cc GP.
Roberts ran away with the shortened race and was joined on the podium by second-placed Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team Kalex) and Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40 Kalex). Vietti went into this race leading the championship and was the only top title contender uninvolved in the earlier multiple accident.
The 20-year-old Italian goes into the next race – next weekend’s Spanish GP at Jerez – leading Ogura by 34 points.