Moto2 World Championship leader Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) will start tomorrow’s crucial penultimate race of the year from pole position after two days of excellent work at Sepang.
The 21-year-old from Saitama had a complicated Australian Grand Prix at chilly Phillip Island last weekend, ending the race in 11th, while his main championship rival Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull Ajo Kalex) crashed out, but he was unbeatable in steamy hot Malaysia this afternoon.
Ogura holds a 1.5-point lead in the title chase, so if he can beat Fernandez tomorrow he will take the advantage into the championship finale at Valencia, Spain. So far he is showing none of the pressure, leading free practice here and underlining his cool, calm character as he approaches the biggest race of his career so far.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) also had a great time in qualifying, chasing Ogura in their final run to qualify seventh, just 0.158 seconds short of Fernandez, who was sixth. Another two tenths faster and he would’ve demoted Fernandez to the third row of the grid, giving Ogura a real advantage in the race.
Nonetheless the 23-year-old Thai rider, who was tenth overall at the end of this morning’s FP3, was happy with seventh, after starting 16th last Sunday at Phillip Island. Chantra currently stands tenth overall and will need good results here and at Valencia to clinch a much-prized top-ten championship result.
Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) will join Ogura on the front tomorrow, the second row will be Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team Kalex) and Fernandez. Row three is Chantra, Pedro Acosta (Red Bull Ajo Kalex) and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing Kalex). The top ten is completed by Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up Boscoscuro), who scored a runaway victory at Phillip Island, showing the closeness and up-and-down nature of Moto2.
After tomorrow’s race the Moto2 paddock heads to Europe for the Valencia Grand Prix on 6th November.