Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) fought his way back from a fourth-row start to finish third at Le Mans today, while team-mate Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) also rode brilliantly to finish fifth, strengthening his second place in the 2022 World Championship and moving to within 16 points of the leader.
Indonesian Grand Prix winner Chantra and Spanish Grand Prix winner Ogura showed great pace in practice here, but both fell during yesterday’s all-important Q2 qualifying session, leaving them 11th and eighth.
Today’s Moto2 race was hot and fraught, with ten riders sliding off, all without injury. Some of these exits helped Chantra and Ogura move forward, but the 23-year-old Thai rider and the 21-year-old from Tokyo were also riding aggressively, forcing their way forward throughout.
Chantra made a great start, eighth at the end of the first lap, and was in podium contention from half-distance. From there he had a great battle with Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing Kalex). With ten laps to go he moved into second place, but a few laps later he made a small mistake that dropped him to fourth. Once again he fought back, snatching third from Beaubier on the penultimate lap.
Ogura lost five positions on lap one but he kept his cool and by lap six he was up to seventh! From there he continued fighting, moving to the front of his group to secure fifth place, moving closer to championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team Kalex) who finished eighth.
The race was won by Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) after his rookie team-mate Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) slid out of the lead. Until then the pair had made the race all their own. Fernandez took his first victory since 2019 by 3.7 seconds from Canet.
After Ogura the top ten was completed by Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), Vietti, Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40 Kalex 12) and Stefano Manzi (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team Kalex).
The 2022 Moto2 title battle continues with the Italian and Catalan GPs on May 29 and June 5.