Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) and Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) will start tomorrow’s Portuguese Grand Prix side by side from the third row of the grid after a difficult two days of practice and qualifying dominated by horrible weather.
Heavy rain and strong winds affected all yesterday’s sessions and this morning’s outings at the Algarve International Circuit, just inland from Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Conditions got so bad during this morning’s Moto2 FP3 session that the session was briefly stopped for safety reasons.
The tricky track conditions caused many falls, so the IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia pair did well to stay healthy for this afternoon’s all important Moto2 Q2 qualifying sessions, which were the first fully dry outings of the weekend. Moto2 is the last category on the Saturday schedule, so Moto2 riders were able to enjoy the best conditions of the weekend so far. The good weather is forecast to continue tomorrow.
Ogura and Chantra were much happier riding in the dry on slicks, after completing the rain-lashed first three practice sessions in 14th and 13th. The 21-year-old from Tokyo and the 23-year-old from Thailand were both in the hunt for second-row starts, Ogura missing out by just 0.071 seconds, with Chantra a further 0.013 seconds down. Chantra will have to overcome the disadvantage of a long-lap penalty, imposed after he was involved in a crash at the previous round in the USA.
Pole position went to Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40), who currently stands fourth in the World Championship. The 22-year-old Spaniard bettered 29-year-old American Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) by three tenths of a second, with 26-year-old Briton Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) completing the front row, a further 0.022 seconds down.
Row two comprises Grand Prix of the Americas winner Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team).
World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) qualified 13th.
The 2022 Moto2 World Championship continues next weekend with the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.