Moto2 rookie Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) rode his best race so far in the intermediate class at Assen this afternoon, finishing in sixth place.
Ogura took a fifth place, the first of five top-seven results, in his second outing in the category – at April’s Doha Grand Prix – but since then he has dramatically reduced the all-important gap to the race winner.
In the Doha race he finished almost 17 seconds behind the winner; today he was less than 11 seconds back. This highlights the excellent progress Ogura has made since graduating from Moto3, after finishing last year’s Moto3 World Championship in second place.
The 20-year-old from Tokyo rode with some of the fastest riders in the category and made some superb overtaking manoeuvres. His best lap only 0.142 seconds slower than the runner-up’s and his average pace four tenths of a second per lap slower than the winner’s.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) also had a great ride, completing the race in 11th place, less than a second outside the top ten. The 22-year-old Thai rider started from 17th on the grid after making a few mistakes in yesterday’s Q2 qualifying session, so he had plenty of work to do, during the 24 laps.
Chantra’s first lap made his day even more complicated – he dropped to 25th at the end of the first lap – so his comeback from there was hugely impressive. He made some excellent passes as he fought his way through the pack – without doubt he would’ve finished much closer to the front without that complicated first lap.
The race was won by Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who came back brilliantly from an early mistake to take his third victory of the year.
The 20-year-old Spaniard had to fight hard to get past the leading trio, which he left to dispute second place. He won the race by just over a second, with second, third and fourth finishers Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) separated by eight tenths of a second.
Gardner had won the previous three races and goes into the mid-season break with a 31-point advantage over his team-mate Fernandez. Third overall is Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex), who finished today’s race in fifth place after starting from 16th on the grid.
Moto2 returns to work at Red Bull Ring, with the Styrian and Austrian GPs on 8th and 15th August.