Moto2 rookie Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) once again had a mountain to climb this weekend, learning his way around a complicated and undulating circuit for the first time on a Moto2 bike.
And yet once again the 20-year-old from Tokyo has proven himself to be totally up to the task. To emphasis the challenge Ogura faced when he arrived here he competed his first day at Aragon aboard a Moto2 bike in 17th place, so today’s improvement to fifth in qualifying has been more than impressive.
This will be the third time in the last five races that he starts from the first two rows and his target is to be in the fight for a podium finish, even if he thinks that he still needs to take steps forward in warm-up to have that chance.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) has been making excellent forward progress at recent races but this weekend has been more complicated for the 22-year-old Thai rider, at a track where he has yet to find his best rhythm. Although he believes he has good pace his chances in both free practice and qualifying were spoiled by traffic, so he wil start from 27th on the grid.
Moto2 pole position went to Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), his fourth pole of the year. Tomorrow the 30-year-old Briton is determined to transform pole into victory, because he has not topped the podium since the first two races of the year in Qatar. Indeed the last time he finished inside the top three was at May’s Spanish GP.
While Lowes goes for victory all eyes will be on title fighters Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) and Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) who have won eight of the first 12 races between them.
Gardner currently leads his team-mate by 44 points, with six races remaining, so Fernandez knows he needs to start reducing that gap. Tomorrow the pair will start from the front row, having set second and third times.
The second row comprises Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP40 Kalex), Ogura and reigning Moto3 World Champion Albert Arenas (Kipin Energy Aspar Team Boscoscuro). The fastest six riders are separated by less than four tenths of a second.
Next stop on the Moto2 calendar is next weekend’s San Marino GP.