Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) contested his first Grand Prix in five months in today’s Grand Prix of the Americas and did well to complete the race inside the World Championship points.
The 22-year-old from Saitama fractured a wrist during a training session in Spain in early March, which forced him to miss the season-opening Portuguese GP in early April. He returned to action at the Argentine GP the very next weekend and distinguished himself well on Friday and Saturday, but when race day turned out to be wet he decided not to race, because a fall in the slippery conditions might have exacerbated his injury.
This weekend Ogura was in better form, though not yet at 100% strength. He qualified 17th, then enjoyed a long battle with a big group of rivals for the lower championship points positions. Twice he was beaten back to 19th but he never gave up, counter-attacking in fine style to finally cross the finish line in 15th position.
Team-mate Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) started the race from further up the grid, in 15th place and had to ride super-hard to make any forward progress in the pack. The 24-year-old Thai rider made many great passes, only to be overtaken again, but by the end he had me up four positions to finish 11th, which moved him up to eighth place in the current World Championship standings.
The race at the front was a straight duel for victory between Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex). Arbolino led most the way, while the 18-year-old Spaniard watched and waited, then finally made his winning move past the 22-year-old Italian while braking for the super-tight Turn 12 at the end of COTA’s long back straight. Nonetheless Arbolino still leads the title fight, from today’s eighth-place finisher Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40 Kalex) and Acosta.
The podium was completed by first-time top-three finisher Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika Sag Team Kalex), who won a frantic battle for the last podium slot with Jeremy Alcoba (QJMotor Gresini Moto2 Kalex), Filip Salac (QJMotor Gresini Moto2 Kalex), Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools SpeedUp Boscoscuro) and Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp Boscoscuro).
The Moto2 paddock now returns to its European heartland, with the Spanish GP later this month, then the French, Italian, German and Dutch GPs