Rookie Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) stunned the Moto2 paddock at Losail by qualifying on the second row of the grid for his second race in the intermediate class, despite strong winds that blew sand onto the track, making conditions tricky.
The 20-year-old from Tokyo learned so much during his first race in the category that he was able to significantly increase his performance going into tomorrow’s race. Sixth quickest improved his grid position 13 places from last weekend’s 19th!
Ogura will line up on the second row of the grid alongside 20-year-old Spaniard Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) and 25-year-old Briton Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing Kalex).
Pole position went to last Sunday’s winner Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex). The 30-year-old Briton was just a fraction of a second faster than 23-year-old Australian Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) and 22-year-old Italian Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex).
The three men on the front row are covered by 0.272 seconds, while 1.477s separate the top 18 riders.
Lowes is aiming to become the first British rider to win the intermediate world title in half a century. The last Briton to take the crown was Phil Read in 1971. Read won eight World Championships during his career. His last was the TT Formula 1 world title, achieved aboard a Honda RCB1000 F1 machine, based on the company’s seminal CB750 superbike.
Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) fought for a top-ten finish last weekend but found the going difficult in the blustery conditions. The 22-year-old Thai rider found that the wind made it challenging to turn his motorcycle into corners, which put him 23rd on the grid.