Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) rode like a hero at sweltering hot Jerez today, grabbing a second-row start in the Q2 qualifying session.
The 22-year-old from Saitama, who broke a wrist in a pre-season training crash last month, had his first race of 2023 only two weeks ago at the Grand Prix of the Americas, where he scored a single World Championship point for 15th. Today he showed how hard he’s been working at rehabilitating the injury by qualifying fifth, less than two tenths of a second off the second row of the grid and seven tenths off podium position.
Tomorrow Ogura will have to be brave to complete the 21-lap race at a high pace in the heatwave that’s currently gripping this part of Spain. He will do what he can, always bearing in mind that he does not want to overstrain the injury, which might compromise his performances at the next run pf races, which start with the French Grand Prix in two weeks and the German and Dutch rounds on consecutive Sundays.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) was also in the contest for top-running positions this afternoon and for a while was running seventh fastest and chasing a second-row start. However, as the pace increased in the final moments the 24-year-old Thai rider couldn’t respond. He will therefore start the race from 11th, on the fourth row of the grid.
Pole position went to veteran Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex), who rode a storming lap, half a second faster than the rest of the pack. The Briton will share the front row with young Spaniard Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) and fellow Briton Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Apar Team Kalex).
Alonso Lopez (CAG Speedup Boscoscuro), Ogura and Barry Baltus (Fieten Olie Racing GP Kalex) will comprise the second row, while the third row will be Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing Kalex), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) and Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex).
The next Moto2 race is at Le Mans France, on 14th May.