Moto2 World Championship contender Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) had a difficult day as Sachsenring today, the 21-year-old from Tokyo ending qualifying for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix 14th quickest for a fifth-row start.
Sachsenring is a very unusual circuit; strongly anti-clockwise, with ten left-handers and only three right-handers, so it represents a particularly unique challenge to riders, some of whom suit the layout better than others.
And the situation was further complicated this afternoon, with heatwave weather which had track temperatures reaching 50-degrees Celsius, leaving riders struggling to find consistent grip.
Ogura did everything he could to get closer to the front of the grid and despite his lowly position he was still only three tenths of a second off a second-row start. His hopes for the race depend on making further set-up improvements during morning warm-up, followed by a strong start to the 28-lap race.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) has also struggled here, completing qualifying in 21st place, to start two rows behind Ogura.
Pole position went to Briton Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), at 32-years-old a veteran of the category and now the rider with the most Moto2 poles. Lowes bettered Albert Arenas (GASGAS Aspar Team) by almost three tenths of a second, but the Spanish former Moto3 World Champion was happy anyway, because this will be his first front-row start in the intermediate category.
Lowes and Arenas will share the front row with Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who has finished on the podium at two of the last three races.
Row two is Jake Dixon (GASGAS Aspar Team), local Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40).
The top ten is completed by Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing).
Tomorrow’s Moto2 race is the tenth of this year’s 20 rounds, so it marks half distance in the championship. Riders and teams immediately head north-west following tomorrow’s racing for next weekend’s Dutch round, which precedes a five-week mid-season break.