Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) put in a solid showing in the sun just outside Barcelona today by qualifying tenth for tomorrow’s 22-lap Moto2 race.
The 21-year-old from Tokyo arrived in Barcelona, where he lives during the season, as joint World Championship leader thanks to a brilliant third place at Mugello last Sunday. But he faces a challenge here as he will have to fight through from the middle of the fourth row of the grid, while main title rival Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) starts from pole.
While not able to match the fastest riders in qualifying, the winner of last month’s Spanish GP Moto2 race has worked well on race rhythm through the free practice sessions and is confident of maintaining his run this year of placing inside the top six in every race he has finished.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) could only qualify in 19th place for the Catalan round. Thailand’s first ever Grand Prix winner, who also lives close the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, was unable to get out of Q1 and into Q2 this afternoon.
Chantra has struggled with the lack of grip in the very hot conditions. Despite showing good speed in the first three sectors of the track he has struggled with a lot of movement from the front tyre through the track’s final two corners. Tomorrow he will be keen to replicate his start to last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, when he gained an impressive ten positions in the first four laps.
There was a surprise at the front of Moto2 qualifying as Celestino Vietti claimed his first pole position since the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix. The Italian came through Q1 before taking pole on his final lap by just 0.008 seconds from Spaniard Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40). American Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) claimed his best qualifying result of the year in third to complete the front row.
The second row is Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team).
After tomorrow’s action, Moto2 riders and teams have one week off before back-to-back races at the Sachsenring and Assen on June 19 and June 26.