Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) can’t wait to get back to work at Red Bull Ring on Friday, just five days after he battled for victory in the Styrian Grand Prix at the track.
The 20-year-old from Tokyo, who only graduated from Moto3 to Moto2 at the start of the year, rode a superb race last Sunday to hunt down leader Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex), proving that the brilliant concept of the Honda-backed Asia Talent Cup is bearing fruit.
With four laps remaining Ogura was less than half a second behind the 22-year-old Italian and closing, when he was given a long-lap penalty for exceeding track limits. That sanction dropped him to fifth at the finish, despite the fact that he rode the fastest lap of the race on the last lap.
The result itself was a disappointment for Ogura, but more importantly the strength of his ride gives him the confidence that he has the talent and the speed to challenge for Moto2 podiums and even race wins.
Ogura and his technicians will aim to further improve his pace for Sunday’s race, with the hope of scoring his first top-three result in MotoGP’s intermediate class.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) also aims for improvements this weekend, after scoring his best-ever World Championship result last Sunday, three places behind Ogura in eighth.
The 22-year-old Thai rider is contesting his second World Championship season and is showing some impressive speed and consistency as his experience of GP racing increases.
Current leader of the 2021 Moto2 title battle is Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), who will be aiming for victory after a rare mistake most likely cost him the win last Sunday. The 23-year-old Australian finished the race in fourth, just ahead of Chantra, but nevertheless increased his points advantage because team-mate and number-one title rival Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) could only manage seventh.
Gardner now enjoys a 35-point advantage over Fernandez, with Bezzecchi third overall, a further nine points down. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) is fourth in the championship but 52 points behind Bezzecchi.
Once the Styrian GP is finished, Moto2 teams will pack up for the long drive to the UK, for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 29th August.