Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) had a great Saturday at Losail today, qualifying a close fifth quickest for tomorrow’s Qatar GP, the first race of the 21-race 2022 Moto2 World Championship.
The 21-year-old from Tokyo ran as high as second, eventually concluding the 15-minute session in fifth, less than a tenth of a second off the front row of the grid and just 0.220 seconds slower than pole position.
Ogura goes well at Losail. Two years ago he finished on the podium in the Moto3 race, riding a Honda NSF250RW, and last year he finished fifth in the Doha GP, only his second race in the intermediate class.
Fifth place also equals his best grid position since last August’s Austrian GP, where he qualified third fastest and finished the race a superb second, his best Moto2 result so far.
Much was expected of team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex), who performed so promisingly during pre-season testing. However, the 23-year-old Thai took a tumble just three laps into the session, sustaining a finger injury, which required a visit to the local hospital. He will not be able to race tomorrow.
Pole position went to Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team Kalex), the 20-year-old Italian who made his Moto2 debut here last year. He completed the session just ahead of team-mates Tony Arbolino (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who won last year’s Qatar and Doha GP Moto2 races at Losail. Just 0.144 seconds covered the front row.
The second row is Filip Salac (Gresini Racing Moto2 Kalex), Ogura and Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex). Fernandez was only 0.257 seconds off pole position and the top ten is covered by less than half a second.
Tomorrow’s Moto2 race starts at 16:20 and will finish as dusk descends on the Losail circuit, outside the Qatari capital of Doha.