Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) kept his Moto2 World Championship hopes very much alive with a strong ride to fifth place at sunny Misano today, despite a complicated weekend at this tight and tricky racetrack.
On Friday, the 21-year-old from Saitama had struggled to find the right set-up to suit the layout, ending the day 11th fastest. But he maintained his focus and worked hard with his team to find a solution to his issues and raise his pace. In FP3 he did indeed find the way forward, helping him to improve to eighth in qualifying, for a third-row start.
Ogura made a superb start to the race, completing the first lap in fifth place at the back of the lead pack. He briefly held fourth place just before half-distance but couldn’t quite maintain his pace, so he wasn’t able to continue his impressive charge. Nonetheless he rode as hard as he could, making sure he stayed fifth for the rest of the race, beating Pedro Acosta (Red Bull Ajo Kalex) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) by just over a second.
Although this was Ogura’s worst result since June’s German GP and it cost him the championship lead, which he took with a brilliant win in last month’s Austrian GP, he goes into the next race only two points behind new series leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull Ajo Kalex). Fernandez finished third behind rookie first-time winner Alonso Lopez (+Ego Speed Up Boscoscuro) and Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40 Kalex).
Lopez’s victory win aboard his Italian Boscoscuro chassis was also the first Moto2 win by a rider not riding a German-made Kalex since the 2019 season-ending Valencia GP.
Ogura’s team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) also had an excellent race, coming through from the fourth row of the grid and an early incident with another rider to finish a hard-fought eighth, just behind Acosta and Arbolino. This result followed the 23-year-old Thai’s superb second place in Austria, where he challenged Ogura all the way to the last corner.
IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia currently stands second in the Moto2 Teams World Championship thanks to the excellent work undertaken by the entire team this year. The team is now just two points off the lead, with six of 20 races remaining.
With Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team Kalex) fourth, today’s top ten was completed by Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) and Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex).
Moto2’s next stop is the Aragon Grand Prix on 18 September, before the paddock heads eastwards for the Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi on the following weekend, then the Thai, Australian and Malaysian rounds. The season ends in Spain, with the Valencia GP on 6 November.