Today was a dream day for Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) and Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex), who scored a first double podium finish for their team at Termas De Rio Hondo.
The team-mates were both in superb form around the fast, flowing circuit, Chantra chasing winner Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team Kalex) for much of the race, while Ogura had a high-tension battle for third with Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40 Kalex).
Their second- and third-place results puts IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia at the top of the prestigious Moto2 Teams World Championship.
Two weeks ago Chantra made history when he became the first Thai to win a motorcycle Grand Prix, at Mandalika, Indonesia, and this afternoon he was only 1.538 seconds from achieving back-to-back victories. The 23-year-old did lead the race at half-distance but finally had to settle for second.
This result means that Chantra has finished on the podium at every race he’s started this year, because he missed the season-opening race in Qatar after a heavy fall earlier in the weekend. And it also moves him into third place in the Moto2 Riders World Championship, after three of 21 races.
At one stage of the 23-lap race it looked like Ogura might have the pace to catch Chantra and Vietti but instead the 21-year-old Japanese star from Tokyo settled into a thrilling duel for the last podium place with 22-year-old Spaniard Canet. The pair were just metres apart during the final stages, Ogura riding superbly, especially on the brakes, to stay third.
On the final lap Canet did get past, twice, but on both occasions Ogura counter-attacked, retaking third place for the last time with a brilliant move at the penultimate corner. This was his first podium of 2022 and his second in the Moto2 category since his first, at last August’s Austrian Grand Prix. Ogura now lies a close fourth in the championship.
This afternoon’s double podium was a huge boost for Honda’s Asian rider-development programme, which has brought Chantra through the Honda-backed Asia Talent Cup and Ogura into Grands Prix with its Asia Talent Team.
Canet’s fourth place was his first finish off the podium of 2022, which nonetheless keeps him second overall on points. He finished the race less than a second ahead of Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), who came through strongly to take fifth place from Tony Arbolino (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex).
Moto3 riders and teams now head northwest for next weekend’s Grand of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas, outside the city of Austin in Texas.