Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) bounced back form a challenging Friday and Saturday to end the season-opening Portuguese Grand Prix with a top-ten finish.
The 24-year-old Thai rider, who took his first Grand Prix victory a year ago in Indonesia, could only qualify 13th, but he found some extra pace today, which helped push him forward into the top ten to take a solid ninth-place finish from the first race of 2023.
Chantra’s team-mate Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex), runner-up in last year’s Moto2 series, is here at Portimao but isn’t riding. The Japanese youngster broke a wrist in an off-road training accident earlier this month and is currently undergoing rehabilitation, although it’s too early to predict the exact time of his return.
Today’s Moto2 race was won by title-favourite Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) who grabbed the lead in the early stages and gradually took control of the race, leaving his only challenger Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40 Kalex) behind.
The two Spaniards were separated by 1.358 seconds at the chequered flag, with Italian Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) completing the podium in third place. Arbolino’s ride was impressive, considering the fact that he had started the race from the third row of the grid, after qualifying in eighth place.
Pole-starter Filip Salac (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 Kalex) fought hard to finish fourth, a little more than three seconds away from a podium finish, with Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team Kalex), Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar M2 Kalex), Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) preceding Chantra over the finish line.
Moto2 riders and teams now head southwest across the Atlantic, bound for South America and next weekend’s Argentine GP at Termas de Rio Hondo. Round three takes place in the USA two weeks later, after which the action returns to Europe at end of next month.