Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) scored a fantastic pole position at Red Bull Ring today, at a crucial stage in the battle for the 2022 Moto2 World Championship.
Currently the 21-year-old from Saitama stands second overall in the series, just 13 points behind leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull Ajo Kalex), winner of the last three races.
The last time Ogura took pole – at May’s Spanish GP at Jerez – he followed that performance with race victory, so hopefully he will be able to repeat that achievement tomorrow, to close the points gap on Fernandez. Red Bull Ring has always been a happy hunting ground for Ogura, who scored his first Moto2 podium here last year.
Ogura ended this afternoon’s Q2 qualifier 0.048 seconds ahead of impressive Moto2 rookie Alonso Lopez (CAG Speed Up Boscoscuro), with Fernandez completing the front row a further 0.120 seconds down. So the entire front row of the grid is separated by 0.168 seconds, with the top ten covered by slightly more than three tenths!
Ogura’s team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) also had a good day at a track that also suits him. The 23-year-old Thai rider was fifth quickest, his best qualifying performance since he started the Indonesian GP in March from fourth on the grid. Chantra had a strong race here last year, taking fifth in the Austrian GP, so he fancies his chances of challenging for a third podium and his first since he was third in the French GP and won the Indonesian GP earlier this year.
Chantra will start from the middle of the second row, with Jake Dixon (Zinia GASGAS Aspar Team) and Pedro Acosta (Red Bull Ajo Kalex) on either side.
The Moto2 top ten is completed by Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team Kalex), currently a close third overall in the championship, Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex), Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex).
The Austrian GP is followed by the San Marino and Aragon events. Then Moto2 riders and teams move to Japan, where Ogura will ride his first Japanese GP since 2019, on September 25.