Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) starts his second season in Moto2 this weekend at Losail, aiming to build on his excellent 2021 rookie campaign.
The 21-year-old from Tokyo was last year’s second highest-scoring Moto2 apprentice, with 12 top-ten finishes, including a superb first podium at August’s Austrian GP, where he came within 0.845 seconds of a first victory in the intermediate class. In 2020 he finished equal second in the Moto3 World Championship, riding a Honda NSF250RW.
During last month’s official three-day pre-season test at Portimao (Portugal), Ogura was one of the fastest riders, showing some impressive race pace and ending with the sixth best time from a grid of 32 riders.
Last year at Losail he finished a strong fifth in the Grand Prix of Doha, so he is confident that he can have the speed to challenge for the podium on Sunday.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) contests his fourth Moto2 World Championship in 2022. Chantra had an up-and-down 2021 with five points-scoring finishes, including a career-best fifth place in the Austrian GP.
The 23-year-old Thai rider had promising pace during pre-season testing, suggesting he’s ready to fight for more regular points-scoring results during the 2022 season, which numbers an all-time record of 21 races.
The top three finishers in last year’s Moto2 World Championship have all graduated to MotoGP this season, leaving the way clear for a new wave of youngsters who’ve come up from Moto3 to challenge the more experienced Moto2 riders.
Most impressive of that new generation is 17-year-old Spaniard Pedro Acosta (Red Bull Ajo Kalex), who last year won the Moto3 world title at his first attempt and was the fastest rider in the Portimao tests.
Team-mate Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull Ajo Kalex) was second quickest in those tests. A three-times Moto2 race winner in 2019, the 24-year-old Spaniard hasn’t won a race since, but a change to the Ajo team, which took a one-two in the 2020 series, should put him back on course.
Moto2’s most experienced rider is Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who will be contesting his eighth season in the class. The 31-year-old Briton won three races last year, finishing fourth overall.
After the Qatar GP Moto2 riders head to Indonesia, Argentina and the USA before the European season begins at Portimao at the end of April.