Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) went into today’s Moto2 season finale holding second place in the World Championship with a real chance of taking the title at his second attempt.
The 21-year-old from Saitama, winner of this year’s Moto2 races in Spain, Austria and Japan, lined up this afternoon determined to overcome the 9.5-point deficit he had to series leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex).
Ogura started from fifth on the grid and immediately went on the attack, fighting his way into second place on the second lap, then battling hard to retain that position. At one-quarter distance the live championship situation put him just half a point behind Fernandez, so he needed to keep moving forward. And he did.
After briefly losing second place to Fernandez’s team-mate Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) he was duelling with the former Moto3 World Champion and closing on race leader Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) when he lost the front while attacking Turn Eight, ending his title challenge.
Ogura was hugely disappointed of course, but he went down fighting, doing everything he could to better Fernandez. After the race he announced that he is proud of what the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia has done for him this year and there is no doubt that his team is also proud of him. His runner-up World Championship position was his best ever, one better than his third place in the 2020 Moto3 series.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex), who started from 12th on the grid also had a great first few laps, working his way up to eighth, then seventh, then sixth. His excellent run ended on lap 15 of 25, when the 23-year-old Thai rider slid off. This was a sad end to a mostly strong season, which saw him take his first Grand Prix victory in Indonesia in March.
Chantra’s brilliant tenth place in the World Championship bettered his previous best, 18th last year, by a very significant eight positions, once again confirming the excellent work done by his IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia crew.
Acosta went on to win the race, the third success of his rookie season in the intermediate class, with Fernandez second, to give his team double cause for celebration. The podium was completed by Arbolino.
Fourth place went to Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up Boscoscuro), after Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) crashed out, with Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) five seconds away in fifth.
Official Moto2 testing starts at Jerez, Spain, and Algarve International Circuit in March, before the 21-round season blasts into action at the Portuguese GP on 26th March.