Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) stormed to his first Moto2 pole position at sun-bathed Jerez today, making him favourite for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix Moto2 race.
The 21-year-old from Tokyo won a thrillingly close battle for pole with Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team). The three front-row starters were separated by just 0.032 seconds at the end of the 15-minute Q2 qualifying session.
Ogura, who currently stands second in the 2022 Moto2 World Championship, has previously scored one pole position in his Grand Prix career, for the 2020 San Marino Moto3 Grand Prix. He finished that race in second, just 0.037s off a first GP win.
This afternoon’s performance was further confirmation of Ogura’s continually developing talent and of the success of Honda’s efforts to mentor a new breed of Grand Prix hopefuls from Asia.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) qualified seventh, just 0.012 seconds off the second row of the grid. The 23-year-old Thai, who recently took his first GP win at Mandalika in Indonesia, was less than half second slower than Ogura, so he’s confident he can fight up front once again, if he gets a good start.
The second row of the grid is headed by Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40), who last Tuesday underwent surgery to fix a left-wrist injury sustained in last Sunday’s Portuguese GP, rookie Fermín Aldeguer (Lightech Speed Up) and World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).
The top ten is completed by Chantra, Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
The 2022 Moto2 World Championship will continue with round seven, the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, in two weeks time.