In the Moto2 class of the 2023 FIM World Championship Grand Prix contested over 20 rounds, IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia kept its riders from last year: Thai rider Somkiat Chantra, who is in his fifth Moto2 season, and Ai Ogura, who made a breakthrough last year in his second season finishing second overall.
Chantra Keeps on Scoring, Ogura Misses Season-opener Through Injury
In the season-opener in Portugal, Chantra qualified 13th and finished ninth in the race. Having been without points in the season opener for the past four years, this race was a promising sign for this season. Ogura, on the other hand, injured his left wrist during pre-season training, and missed the opening round. He was back in action in the second round in Argentina, but it was a tough start to the season.
Chantra scored points consistently from Round 1, and in Round 7, Germany, he qualified third on the front row for the first time this season, and finished fourth in the race. Although he narrowly missed out on a podium finish, it was his best result of the season so far, extending his streak of consecutive points finishes since the start of the season to seven.
Ogura Back in Shape, Second on the Podium
Round 8, the Dutch TT was held at TT Circuit Assen. Ogura had had a string of disappointing results thus far, but finally, it was time to show his true potential. After setting a new lap record in Free Practice, he set the third fastest time in Q2. In the race, after a fierce battle for the lead, he finished runner-up, his best result of the season. Chantra struggled in the leading group until midway through the race, but crashed and his points-winning streak came to a stop at seven.
In the 10th round of the season, the Austrian GP, Ogura qualified second and Chantra fifth, positioning themselves for a potential win. Ogura managed his tires well in the hot conditions and finished third, his second podium of the season. Chantra lost significant time due to contact early in the race, but was able to recover and finish the race in fifth place.
One-Two at Japan GP
In Round 14, the Japanese GP held at Mobility Resort Motegi, Chantra had the perfect race weekend, setting the fastest time in every practice session, breaking the track record in qualifying to take pole position, and holding the lead in the race, setting the fastest lap on his way to victory. Ogura also qualified second behind Chantra, and despite briefly losing a position during the race, he finished on the podium in second place at his home GP. For the team, it was a memorable one-two finish at home.
Chantra Third at Home GP
Round 17 was the Thailand GP. Chantra qualified fifth on the grid on a special-livery racing bike for his home round, finishing third after a solid start. He became the first local rider to be on the podium in the Thailand GP. Ogura struggled in qualifying and started from 19th on the grid, but was able to gain places and finish fifth.
In rounds 18 (Malaysia) and 19 (Qatar), Ogura, who started from the middle of the grid in both races, was solid when it counted, finishing fourth in both races. In the final round of the season, Valencia, both Chantra and Ogura succeeded in improving their positions in the race, finishing fifth and 11th respectively. Chantra finished the season sixth overall, his best result to date, and Ogura made a big improvement in the second half of the season to finish ninth, placing both riders in the top 10.
Chantra finished the season with a win in Japan and a third at home in Thailand, while Ogura finished on the podium three times despite although he did not win a race. Chantra will continue to race next season with teammate Mario Aji, who will move up from the Moto3 class.
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