Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) has had a challenging start to his fifth season in the Moto3 World Championship in Portugal, going 13th fastest in this afternoon’s first Q2 qualifying session of 2023.
The 24-year-old Thai rider will therefore start tomorrow’s race from the fifth row of the grid, leaving him with lots of work to do in tomorrow’s 21-lap Moto2 race. Chantra had a complicated first day here, with rain spoiling some of the first session and a crash costing him time in the second session. That left him with plenty to work on during this morning’s FP3 outing, so perhaps he wasn’t quite ready to give his best in qualifying.
Sadly, Japanese star Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) is not taking part in this weekend’s action. The 22-year-old from Saitama, who finished a brilliant second overall in last year’s Moto2 World Championship, is recovering from an injury sustained while off-road training for the new season. Ogura fell during a session outside Barcelona earlier this month, suffering a wrist injury. We await news of his return.
Pole position went to Filip Salac (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 Kalex), the 21-year-old Czech rider’s first in the intermediate category. Salac chased Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) for his best lap, using the Spaniard’s slipstream to gaining valuable hundredths of a second. That put him on pole, just ahead of Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40 Kalex) and Acosta.
The second row will be Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing Kalex), Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team Kalex) and Jeremy Alcoba (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2 Kalex). Row three will be Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex), Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), with the top ten rounded out by Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team Kalex).
Tomorrow’s Moto2 race is the second race of the day, between Moto3 and MotoGP.