Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) and Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) qualified seventh and eighth for tomorrow’s Argentine Grand Prix at the end of a combined first day of practice and qualifying.
The late arrival of vital freight, due to transport issues following the recent Indonesian Grand Prix, forced the cancellation of all yesterday’s practice. When the freight arrived in the early hours of this morning some teams had just hours to prepare their machines for today’s two free practice sessions of 50 minutes each, followed by the usual pair of 15-minute qualifying outings.
This is a big weekend for Chantra, who two weeks ago became the first Thai to win a motorcycle GP, confirming the success of Honda’s efforts to further the career of Asian riders, with the Asia Talent Cup and Honda Team Asia Moto2 and Moto3 squads.
The 23-year-old, who is contesting his fourth World Championship season, was fast today but his fight for a front-row start was blunted by a high-speed fall during FP2, caused by gusting winds, which cost him a significant amount of track time. Nevertheless Chantra was fast in Q2, just 0.026 seconds off row two
Meanwhile Ogura was also in the running for a front-row start, setting the fastest sector two time, but he didn’t quite put the whole lap together. The 21-year-old from Tokyo knows he can run with the front group tomorrow, if he can get a good start.
Pole position went to 16-year-old Spaniard Fermin Aldeguer (MB Conveyors Racing Boscoscuro), who became the youngest rider to take pole in motorcycling’s intermediate Grand Prix class. The impressive rookie will tomorrow share the front row with second-fastest Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull Ajo Kalex) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex).
The second row will be Albert Arenas (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team), Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) and World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team Kalex).