Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) had a great Saturday at Portimao, qualifying fourth and 11th fastest, which gave the team-mates great hopes of recording the team’s best Moto2 result in today’s third round of the 2021 Moto2 series.
However, it was not to be. The pair were in the middle of a multi-rider battle inside the top ten when another rider touched Ogura which pushed him into Chantra. Both the 20-year-old from Tokyo and the 22-year-old Thai rider crashed out – through no fault of their own – losing the chance of achieving Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s greatest team result. Chantra was able to remount his damaged bike and continue to the finish.
The race was won by rookie sensation Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who got the better of his rivals after a spectacular fight through the pack. With nine laps to go the 20-year-old Spaniard was still deep in the leading pack in sixth place, but from there he made relentless forward progress, taking the lead with four laps to go and stretching his advantage to 1.6 seconds at the finish.
The battle for the last two podium positions was intense all the way to the chequered flag, with Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Boscoscuro) taking second place to claim his first podium in the Moto2 class. He finished less than four tenths of a second ahead of last year’s Portimao Moto2 winner Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who snatched third place from Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) with just two corners remaining.
Gardner, son of Wayne (who in 1987 became the second Honda rider to win the 500cc World Championship), now leads the 2021 Moto2 points chase.
The previous points leader, Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who won the opening two races in Qatar, crashed out at the first corner. He was uninjured in the tumble.