Moto2 World Championship challenger Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) rode an amazing racing at Assen today, fighting back from a couple of huge slides that dropped him to 16th to take the chequered flag in second place, sixth tenths of a second behind winner Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull Ajo).
Ogura’s best result since his victory in May’s Spanish Grand Prix moves him to within one point of the World Championship lead. He now stands right behind Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Fernandez who currently share first place.
The 21-year-old from Tokyo was on the second row of the grid and made a great start. However, on the second lap he had a huge slide exiting Assen’s Turn 10, which he miraculously saved but which lost him several positions. Another slide a few laps later dropped him even further back.
Rear-grip issues seemed to have ruined his race but then Ogura’s rear tyre improved and he made remarkable forward progress, passing riders here, there and everywhere around this super-fast circuit to lift himself into podium contention during the final laps. For a while it looked like he may even have the pace to win but second was nevertheless a remarkable result considering the circumstances.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) had a more complicated weekend, qualifying 16th after taking a wrong direction with bike set-up and finishing the race in 13th place. The 23-year-old Thai rider – who won this year’s Indonesian Moto2 race – now stands tenth in the World Championship.
Fernandez had to fight incredibly hard for his second consecutive victory and third of the season. The lead group of riders were close throughout and swapping positions constantly, but the 24-year-old Spaniard was able to eke out a slight advantage in the final laps to ensure this important success. Third man on the podium was 26-year-old Briton Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), who started from pole position.
Today’s race was the fourth in five weekends and precedes a five-week mid-season break, which concludes with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 7.