Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) contested his second Moto2 race this evening and amazed the Losail paddock with his speed, which took him to a remarkable fifth-place finish.
The 20-year-old Moto2 rookie from Tokyo qualified sixth fastest and showed great skill and daring during the 20 laps, battling with several more experienced rivals to lead the second group. Ogura, last year’s Moto3 World Championship runner-up, got pushed down to eighth on the first lap of the race but he didn’t lose his cool. Instead he steadied himself and started pushing forward.
Ogura swapped position several times with rivals, running sixth for much of the race and taking fifth on the final lap from Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP40 Kalex).
To underline the closeness of the race the six riders immediately behind Ogura were within 1.54 seconds of the rising Japanese star.
The race was won by Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who made it back-to-back victories, 0.190 seconds in front of 23-year-old Australian Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who made it back-to-back runner-up finishes. The 30-year-old Briton is the first rider in the history of the Moto2 class, established in 2010, to win the opening two races of the season.
The podium was completed by 20-year-old Spaniard Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who was well clear of fourth-placed Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex). Ogura was slightly less than ten seconds behind Bezzecchi at the end of the race, so his target at the next few rounds of the championship will be to reduce that gap, so he can get closer to the podium contest.
Ogura’s team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) ran in the top ten during last Sunday’s Qatar GP Moto2 race but he had a more challenging ride this evening. The 22-year-old Thai rider didn’t qualify too well, so he had to ride aggressively during the first laps, which wasn’t good for his rear tyre. He finally finished 19th.