Moto2 rookie Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) has had to climb a steep learning curve this weekend because this is the first time he has ridden a Moto2 bike competitively in the rain.
To make life even more difficult for Ogura the weather hasn’t stopped changing, with different conditions from one session to the next and conditions changing during each session, with the track getting drier or wetter, at the whim of the weather.
Despite all this the 20-year-old from Tokyo had acquitted himself well, completing this morning’s damp FP3 session in ninth place, ahead of the winner of the last race in Spain, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex).
This afternoon he started qualifying in fine form, completing the dry Q1 session a superb second fastest. That gained him promotion to Q2, by which time the rain had returned. This was the first time Ogura had ridden a Moto2 bike in fully wet conditions. He did his best, trying to extract maximum performance from his bike, but slid off in the attempt. He will start the race from the sixth row of the grid.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) qualified one row behind his team-mate in 20th. His best lap was much faster than Ogura’s because he qualified in the dry Q1 outing. However, the 22-year-old Thai rider will start the race from 26th after incurring a penalty for crashing during FP2 at a corner where yellow warning flags were displayed.
Moto2 Q2 was also damp, with pole position going to rookie Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who will share tomorrow’s front row with second- and third-fastest Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex) and Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex).
On the second row will be Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Boscoscuro), Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team Kalex).
World Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) had a few scares on his way to seventh to lead the third row of the grid. Gardner leads the title chase by three points from Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who will start tomorrow’s race from tenth.