Moto2: Stunning Home Win for Ai Ogura at the Japanese GP

Ai Ogura and his Honda Team Asia machine have taken a home win at the Japanese GP. He took the lead at the half-way point in the race and never looked back. Joining him on the podium was championship leader, Augusto Fernandez and early race leader Alonso Lopez.

The tears were flowing in the Honda Team Asia garage today as Ai Ogura took a stunning home victory at the Japanese Grand Prix. He is the first rider to do so since 2006 and was greeted like a hero in parc ferme.

Whilst his win felt dominant, it was hard fought as he made his way through the pack from 13th on the grid. He made a brilliant start, leaping up to 6th in the first few corners, and never looked back.

Our championship leader faced a similarly brilliant day, coming home in 2nd despite starting in 11th. However, Augusto Fernandez will be disappointed to have not been able to catch Ogura today. He certainly had the pace to do so, evidenced on his journey up through the field.

The final podium spot was taken by Alonso Lopez who enjoyed spending much of the first half of the race in 1st. The Spanish rider enjoyed a strong race today but his performance dropped off a little too much in the final laps for him to improve on 3rd.

It was a difficult day for both Aron Canet and Fermin Aldeguer who qualified in 1st and 2nd respectively. Firstly, Aldeguer crashed out on lap 3, with Canet facing a similar fate just one lap later. Both were visibly frustrated but today felt like Canet’s race to lose. He was enjoying a comfortable lead with 1.8s of clear track behind him when he hit the gravel.

 

AS IT HAPPENED

As the lights went out, it was Aldeguer who flew off the line and quickly took the lead away from pole-sitter Canet, coming out on top as they existed turn 1. Just behind them, Somkiat Chantra overtook Jake Dixon for 3rd. However, Chantra faced a moment in the early corners and this put plenty of clear air between himself and the two leading riders and the rest of the pack. By the end of the first lap this gap was up to 0.9s, giving Canet and Aldeguer a comfortable lead.

Other strong starts were enjoyed by Cameron Beaubier as he leapt from 8th to 4th, Ogura who flew from 13th to 6th and Acosta who jumped from 18th to 13th. Sadly, after losing 3rd to Chantra, Dixon was then swallowed even further by the grid and eventually ended up in 9th, having started in 3rd.

By the end of the first lap, Ogura continued to climb and was battling hard with Beaubier for 6th. As Ogura rose up the ranks, his title contender Fernandez was still stuck down in 12th and unable to make waves in the early laps.

As Chantra struggles to close up to the leading pair, Ogura overtakes Tony Arbolino to take 4th. In doing so, he also sets the fastest lap of the race so far.

At turn 5 of lap 3, Aldeguer crashes out of the race from 2nd place. The front wheel slides from under him and he is left clearly heartbroken, dejectedly leaning on the tire wall as the marshals remove his bike from the gravel. With Aldeguer out of the race, he gifts a 1.8s lead to Canet who goes on to set the fastest lap of the race so far.

As Canet continues to push, possibly pushing too hard, he then goes down himself and crashes at turn 9 of lap 4. He is able to rejoin the field but is way down at the back of the grid before eventually retiring after a second crash on lap 16.

As the riders complete the fourth lap of the race, Chantra is leading from Arbolino in 2nd and Lopez in 3rd. Arbolino seems to struggle on lap 5 as he loses 2nd place to Lopez and, a matter of corners later, then loses 3rd place to Ogura.

Fernandez, knowing his championship contender had made his way up to the podium places, was finally starting to make waves and manages to get himself up to 6th in response. He then tries a move on Dixon for 5th but the Brit rider aggressively fights back and firmly shuts the door on him.

On lap 7, whilst leading the race, Chantra has a moment and goes wide at turn 5. This allows Lopez and Ogura to overtake him and take 1st and 2nd respectively. As he recovers from the mistake, Chantra then loses 3rd to Arbolino, leaving him stuck down in 4th having lead the race just moments earlier.

Celestino Vietti, who led the Moto2 championship for much of the first half of the season, has struggled all weekend. He qualified in 18th and then crashes out of the race on lap 8. He tries to rejoin the field but retires two laps later.

At half distance, things seemed to have settled down a little with gaps forming in the leading group. Lopez was still leading, ahead of Ogura in 2nd, Arbolino in 3rd, Chantra in 4th, Fernandez in 5th and Dixon in 6th. On lap 11, Lopez seems to start to lose some pace and Ogura is quickly hot on his tail. The gap, which had been 0.4s on the previous lap, quickly reduced down to 0.1s.

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The top two riders spend the next two laps battling for 1st and, eventually, on turn 11 of lap 13, Ogura snatches and retains the lead. At the same time, his title rival, Fernandez is fighting with Arbolino for 3rd and eventually comes out on top, besting the Italian rider.

On all 14, the gap begins to grow between Ogura and Lopez, causing Lopez to fall into the clutches of chasing Fernandez. The two Spanish riders remain close for all of lap 15 and are almost side-by-side as they cross the line to start lap 16. This pressure then causes Lopez to go wide at the start of lap 16, which finally allows Fernandez through. They continue to battle for the following few laps which allows Dixon, in 4th, to catch up to them.

Everything calms down again by lap 17 as Ogura pulls out a 1.8s lead over Fernandez. After their hot battle, Lopez in third drops back to 1.1s behind Fernandez and remains 0.9s ahead of Dixon in 4th. A further 2.6s behind him is Chantra, Arbolino and Acosta.

Aware that his title rival is just one place ahead of him, Fernandez now sets the fastest lap of the race. On the following lap, in reaction to this, Ogura shaves 0.4s off his lap time. Similarly, in response to Dixon’s chasing, Lopez cuts 0.6s off his lap time. With no one able to significantly close any gaps, the riders all keep their heads and cross the checkered flag in this same order.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

With just four races left of the 2022 season, everything is still to place for in the championship and a single error could be the difference between hero and zero.

After righting his way up to 2nd place today, Fernandez remains at the top of the standings. However, today’s race win has allowed Ogura to close to the gap to just two points!

After a DNF today, both Canet and Vietti’s title fights appear to be over. Canet is 57 points behind Fernandez and Vietti is an enormous 72 points away.

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Moto2: Canet Masters Difficult Conditions to Take Pole for Japanese GP

Aron Canet takes a brilliant pole position ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix in Montegi. Fermin Aldeguer will line up just behind him in 2nd with Jake Dixon in 3rd.

Aron Canet is the Master of Montegi today – he not only had to make his way through Q1 but also had to contend with red flags and poor weather conditions on his way to securing pole position. The Flexbox HP40 rider set a time of 2:04.939 in the late stages of the session but found himself at the top of the timing sheets for much of Q1 and Q2, showing his dominance on this track and in these changeable conditions.

Fermin Aldeguer was lucky to keep hold of 2nd place after his lap time was deleted due to a yellow flag infringement. A manual check after the session showed that there was, in fact, no infringement and Aldeguer was given back his lap time of 2:05.272.

Jake Dixon is known to love these wet conditions and has often enjoyed good results during previous rain-soaked sessions. That was true today as he spent much of Q2 towards the top of the timing sheets, eventually ending the session in a decent 3rd place.

Our two championship contenders faced a difficult day with Augusto Fernandez qualifying in 11th and Ai Ogura qualifying in 13th. Our winner from last time out, Pedro Acosta was stuck down in 18th, unable to find the pace on any of his 8 flying laps in Q2.

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QUALIFYING 1

In this session, some of the big names included Canet, Sam Lowes, Marcel Schrotter and previous championship contender, Celestino Vietti. The rain fell on and off throughout the session, with poor visibility caused by both the spray and the dark conditions. Whilst getting used to these conditions, there were early moments for Lowes and Canet. Everyone started Q1 by tiptoeing around the track and avoiding the kerbs as much as possible.

The early leader in the session was Barry Baltus, the Dutch rider, who laid down his intentions with 10 minutes left on the clock. Canet soon joined him at the top and they were both swapping between first and second throughout the early stages of the session.

With just over 7 minutes left on the clock, Jeremy Alcoba went down at the outside of Turn 4, bringing out our first yellow flags.

Shortly after, Lowes leaped up to third, setting a time of 2:07.4, and pushing Vietti out of the top 4. However, shortly after, Lowes also went down at Turn 4 – a highside threw him over the front of the bike in a nasty looking accident. He will be frustrated with this incident on his return to Moto2 after recently dislocating his shoulder and working hard to get back on the grid.

The next rider to go down, with 3.5 minutes left in the session, was Niccolo Antonelli. He went down at Turn 11 as the bike slipped from under him, without having been able to set a timed lap in the session. He eventually rejoined the action and ended the session in 12th.

The resulting yellow flags seemed to hinder most of the grid with Baltus and Canet still at the top with 2 minutes to go. Vietti then leapfrogs Lowes for 4th, with a 2.07.1.

Despite Baltus improving on his own lap time, he is beaten shortly after by Canet who lays down a 2.05.5 – no one is able to improve on that time and this keeps Canet at the top for the rest of the session.

The checkered flag falls with Canet, Baltus, Schrotter and Vietti in the top four. On their final flying laps, Keminth Kubo propels himself up to 3rd, bringing Lorenzo Dalla Porta and home hero Taiga Hada with him. Schrotter had already met the checkered flag and was unable to fight back as this group shuffled him down to 6th.

Cameron Beaubier, the final rider to set a flying lap, sneakily steals the final Q2 position as he shuffles Dalla Porta, Haga and Schrotter down to 5th, 6th and 7th.

That meant that the session ended with Canet on top, thanks to a time of 2:05.543, just ahead of Baltus in 2nd, Kubo in 3rd and Beaubier in 4th, all of whom progress to Q2.

QUALIFYING 2

Thunder and lightning was in the air for our second qualifying session, causing issues for the timing systems and on-screen graphics. Given how hard the rain was falling, it was important for riders to get out on the track quickly and lay down a timed lap – conditions this unpredictable can lead to anything!

With just over 9 minutes remaining, the conditions became too tricky to contend with and the red flag was quickly brought out. Standing water on the track and heavy rain fall meant that the track simply wasn’t safe enough to finish the session.

At that point, Canet was leading the pack with a time of 2:07.503, which was miles away from his fastest time in Q1. Just behind him was Somkiat Chantra and Dixon.

The session restarts some hours later, but with much better conditions. However, with a shorter session to contend with, getting on to the pace early was going to be key. As the lights went green, everyone was quickly out on the track.

The first flying laps highlighted the improving conditions as every rider was able to improve on their previous lap times. Canet’s previous fastest lap was quickly beaten by Dixon, before Canet regained his place at the top of the timings with a 2:05.875. Slotting in just behind them was Aldguer in third.

With 3 minutes on the clock, the first yellow flag of the Q2 session was waved as Albert Arenas went down at the end of Sector 2. Shortly after, Alonso Lopez went down at Turn 11 to bring out yet another yellow flag. At that point, both riders were stuck in 15th and 8th respectively but you eventually end the session in 17th and 12th respectively.

With less than a minute to go, Aldeguer propels himself to the top of the timings sheet, as he sets a time of 2:05.272. However, Dixon and Canet are both on personal best laps. Dixon slots himself into third whilst Canet regains provisional pole, leaving Aldeguer in second.

With just 30 seconds left on the clock, the rain starts to fall once again. Navarro then crashes at Turn 4, bringing out a yellow flag in Sector 1. The worsening conditions and the yellow flag seem to hinder anyone from improving.

As the checkered flag falls, the only rider to improve is Tony Arbolino, who leaps from 12th up to 4th, as other improvers have their lap times deleted thanks to that yellow flag.

Aldeguer also has his lap time temporarily deleted – this was initially due to a yellow flag infringement but a manual review found this to be incorrect and he was allowed to keep hold of second place.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Flawless Ogura leads home a Honda Team Asia 1-2 in Austria

Ai Ogura has won the Austrian GP, despite a last-lap attempt from his team mate Somkiat Chantra. Chantra had to settle for 2nd whilst Dixon took 3rd in the final moments of the race. Ogura now leads the championship, just 1 point ahead of Augusto Fernandez.

Ai Ogura has turned his pole position into a stunning win at the Red Bull Ring. He took the lead early in the race and never looked back. Just behind him was his Honda Team Asia team mate, Somkiat Chantra, who had to settle for second despite a last-lap attempt for the win. With just a few corners to go, Chantra made his move round the outside and was ahead of Ogura until the Japanese rider got the cut back at the final corner.

Jake Dixon was able to capitalise on the drama and action around him, keeping his nose clean throughout the race and coming home in third. Much like Chantra, he made a final lap lunge on Pedro Acosta. Unlike Chantra, he was able to make this stick to take 3rd in the final moments of the race.

Acosta, who is returning from an injury sustained before the summer break, had a positive day despite missing the chance to visit the podium. He was the fastest man on the track in the early stages of the race, setting numerous fastest laps as he enjoyed a race-long battle with Dixon.

Just behind him were the ever-battling group of Augusto Fernandez, Aron Canet and Alonso Lopez who eventually finished in 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. Lopez will be frustrated with his final position today, after leading the race in the first few laps as well as enjoying a battle for the podium with Ogura and Vietti. His biggest mistake came on Lap 9 when he was sitting in third and trying to keep Vietti behind. He overcooked it, went wide and gave away the place to the Italian rider. A few laps later, whilst battling with Fernandez and Canet, he then dropped from 4th to 8th in the space of a few corners.

Meanwhile, Celestino Vietti had a terrible day and retired a few laps after he crashed. With 9 laps to go and sitting in 3rd, he was looking to make a move on Chantra for 2nd when he pushed too hard and the bike slipped out from underneath him. He rejoined at the back of the pack but retired shortly after.

Further non-finishers included Tony Arbolino and Lorenzo Dalla Porta who have a very scary crash at Turn 3 – the two riders tangled together as they misjudged each other’s braking points, leaving them and their bikes in the middle of the track as the grid had to carefully made their way through. Thankfully, the fast work of the marshal meant we didn’t need a red flag but Arbolino and Dalla Porta were unable to rejoin the grid. This wasn’t the way Arbolino would have wanted to finish his 100th race!

Aldeguer had a similarly scary crash – on Lap 12 he fell at the entry to the newly designed Turn 2a/2b chicane and almost slid into the path of the racing pack.

Alessandro Zaccone was the first crash of the race – an enormous high-side at the reworked Turn 2 chicane ruined his bike and he was stretchered off the track by the medical team. Sean Dylan Kelly, Kemith Kubo, Manuel Gonzalez and Filip Salac also failed to finish the race.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
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After his flawless win, Ogura now leads the championship by a single point over Fernandez, who will have been disappointed with 5th today. After retiring from the race and scoring no points, Vietti has slipped back even further. He is still third in the standings but is now 26 points behind Fernandez.

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Moto2: Ogura Takes Pole For Austrian GP

Ai Ogura has taken pole ahead of tomorrow’s race at the Red Bull Ring. He will be joined on the front row by Alonso Lopez and Augusto Fernandez.

Japanese rider, Ai Ogura, will start tomorrow’s Austrian GP from pole position after setting a stunning qualifying lap time of 1:33.933. Just 0.048 seconds behind him was Alonso Lopez taking 2nd place. Championship leader, Augusto Fernandez, will line up 3rd for tomorrow’s race.

The top five were covered by less than 0.2 seconds with Jake Dixon in 4th and Somkiat Chantra in 5th.

After being declared fit to race on Thursday, the returning Pedro Acosta made it to Q2 and took an impressive 6th for tomorrow’s race. Just behind him was Celestino Vietti who will be looking to make significant improvements after his recent poor performance.

Marcel Schrotter was forced to make his way through Q2 but eventually took 8th ahead of Albert Arenas and Lorenzo Dalla Porta who took 9th and 10th respectively.

After topping the time sheets in Q1, Cameron Beaubier took 11th in Q2. Fermin Aldeguer was also a Q1 progressor and, despite sitting at the top of the timing sheets in the early stages, took 12th as the session ended.

Aron Canet struggled during the session. With 3 minutes left on the clock and provisionally sitting in 11th, he crashed out of the session and was eventually shuffled back to 17th.

Tony Arbolino, who starts his 100th race this weekend, will line up in a slightly disappointing 15th. He lines up just ahead of the final Q1 progressor, Bo Bendsneyder in 16th.

Jeremy Alcoba and Joe Roberts were achingly close to a place in Q2 thanks to their final flying laps in Q1. However, they are forced to line up 19th and 20th respectively for tomorrow’s race.

All the race action will be available on Crew On Two so stay tuned for all the details!

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Moto2: Fernandez Wins Action-Packed Dutch GP

Augusto Fernandez has taken back-to-back wins after taking victory in Assen. Ai Ogura enjoyed a phenomenal race as he fought his way back from 16th to 2nd. The final podium position was taken by our pole sitter, Jake Dixon, enjoying only his second ever Moto2 podium.

This year’s Dutch GP in Assen was a true spectacle with 24 laps full of action. For much of the race, we had a 7-way battle for the lead with no idea who would cross the line in the podium positions.

Augusto Fernandez eventually came out on top, enjoying back-to-back wins for only the second time in his career. With a clinical performance and well-timed moves, he took the lead on lap 17 and never looked back.

Second place went to Ai Ogura who was, arguably, the rider of the day. He faced two scary moments in the opening stages of the race, causing him to drop back to 16th.

The final podium spot went to this weekend’s polesitter, Jake Dixon. After struggling in the early stages, he found his rhythm in the latter stages and secured his second career podium.

It was a difficult day for Marcel Schrotter and Albert Arenas who had been part of the leading pack for most of the race. On lap 12, Schrotter crashed out from the lead, missing the opportunity for his maiden Moto2 win. Two laps before the checkered flag fell, Arenas also crashed out, missing out on his maiden Moto2 podium.

Despite starting on the front row, Sam Lowes also faced a difficult race. He was forced out wide on the first corner of the first lap, meaning he tumbled down to the back of the grid, before then crashing on lap 4.

Our championship leader Celestino Vietti, having started the race in 11th, was able to capitalise on these misfortunes to come home in 4th. He brought with him the home hero, Bo Bendsneyder, who crossed the line in with a career-best 5th.

Alonso Lopez, after flying off the line at the start of the race and enjoying a strong battle with the leading pack, slipped back down the grid in the latter stages of the race and ended the day in 6th.

Rounding out the top 10 was Tony Arbolino, Joe Roberts, Manuel Gonzalez and Filip Salac who all enjoyed a relatively quiet race in comparison to the leading group.

The weekend’s action was missing Aron Canet, who is still struggling with consistent nose bleeds after a car crash a few weeks ago, and Pedro Acosta, who is recovering from surgery after a training crash a few days ago.

As we head into the 5-week summer break, momentum is clearly with Fernandez. However, the battle will be hot when the grid returns in Silverstone, as the top three championship contenders are covered by just 1 point.

 

As It Happened

As the lights went out, Dixon and Lowes got a brilliant start, flying off the line. Lowes came up alongside Arenas and looked set to steal 2nd from him. However, as Lopez switched to the inside of Turn 1, he pushed Lowes wide and sent him tumbling down the order. It was a late and aggressive move from Lopez which saw Lowes sent to the back of the grid. A few corners later and Lopez was back at it again, making another aggressive move past Arenas to take 2nd.

Dixon, who had maintained the lead after his pole position start, was next on Lopez’s list. In a move that seemed to come from nowhere, Lopez snatched the lead away from the Brit rider and was leading the pack for the first time in his Moto2 career. As the grid crosses the line for the first time, Lopez was 1st, ahead of the Aspar duo of Dixon in 2nd and Arenas in 3rd. Schrotter was just behind in 4th, having started in 10th, with Ogura in 5th.

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On the second lap, Ogura faced the first of two scary moments which forced him up and out of his seat as the bike wobbled beneath him. He dropped down to 9th before a similar issue on the following lap then caused him to drop further down to 16th. It appeared that his tires were not quite where he needed them to be.

On lap three, British rider Sam Lowes went down from the back of the grid to end a terrible race in the worst possible way. He will be undeniably disappointed after his strong qualifying performance.

Meanwhile, at the front of the grid, Schrotter was closing in on Lopez and looking like he wanted to challenge for the lead. On the following lap, Arenas made a move past his team mate, taking 3rd from Dixon. On lap nine, Dixon then loses 4th place to Fernandez. He thinks about fighting back and eventually makes a move a few corners later, only to move too late and almost lose 5th place to Bendsneyder. Dixon quickly swaps to defence mode and is able to remain in 5th.

On the following lap, Arenas makes a move past Lopez to take second place. Shortly after, Fernandez is also past Lopez, as the Spanish rider loses two places in as many corners.

At this point in the race, with 10 laps completed, the top five places were held by Schrotter in 1st, Arenas and Fernandez in 2nd and 3rd, followed by Lopez and Dixon in 4th and 5th. Just behind them, home hero Bendsneyder was able to squeeze past Arbolino in the final sector to take 6th. All this fighting allowed our championship leader, Vietti who was back in 8th, to catch up to the leading pack of seven and join in the fun. In the space of one lap, the gap ahead of Vietti dropped by half a second.

On lap 11, Schrotter crashed out of the lead, losing the opportunity to claim his maiden win. He went wide at Turn 5 which put him off the racing line. As he tried to correct the error, the bike dropped from underneath him. Meanwhile, Lopez and Fernandez were battling hard for second place, which they had inherited from Schrotter’s crash. The pair were swapping positions for most of lap 12 before Lopez came out on top.

Ss they started lap 13, it was Arenas in the lead, ahead of Lopez in 2nd and Fernandez in 3rd. Dixon was just behind in 4th with home hero Bendsneyder in 5th. Vietti was still in 8th with Ogura, his nearest championship rival, quickly catching up to him in 9th.

The battle for 8th was quickly hotting up with Vietti and Ogura swapping positions at every corner. Eventually, it is Ogura who comes out on top. Lopez’s struggles continue as he was forced to sit up at turn 1 of lap 16, sending him tumbling down the grid from 2nd to 6th. He is soon caught by Ogura whose pace was rapid.

On lap 17, we had another change at the front of the grid as Fernandez takes the lead from Arenas. With numerous battles going on behind them, the leading pair quickly find themselves with a 0.9-second lead.

With just four laps remaining, and plenty of on-track action going on, Fernandez is still leading the race, with Dixon now up to 2nd and Ogura in 3rd. Arenas had now slipped back to 4th but was still fighting for his maiden podium finish. Vietti was up to 5th, just ahead of Bendsneyder and Lopez. On the following lap, Ogura makes it past Dixon and into 2nd. The battle gifted Fernandez a 0.4-second, and a seemingly unbeatable, lead.

With just two laps remaining, Arenas cracks under the pressure and crashes at Turn 9. That first podium finish remains elusive for the Spaniard.

On the final lap, Fernandez had a 0.5-second lead ahead of Ogura and Dixon. With Vietti now in 4th, he made a late lunge, attempting to steal 3rd from Dixon. The pair met the checkered flag side-by-side but it was Dixon who came out on top.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Dixon takes a Dazzling Pole in Assen

Brit rider Jake Dixon has taken a fantastic pole ahead of tomorrow’s Dutch GP. He is joined on the front row by his teammate, Albert Arenas, and fellow Brit, Sam Lowes.

Tomorrow’s Dutch GP will see an Aspar 1-2 for the start of the race. Brit rider, Jake Dixon, secured pole with a time of 1.36.736 – his final lap of the session. His team mate, Albert Arenas, was just 0.01-seconds off the pace and will start tomorrow’s race from second.

A second Brit will also be on the front row, as Sam Lowes takes third for tomorrow’s face start. Just behind Lowes with be Ai Ogura in 4th and Alonso Lopez in a brilliant 5th. Home hero, Bo Bendsneyder will start the race from a strong 8th.

Further down the grid, Celestino Vietti, our championship leader, faced a challenging day. He crashed out during Q2 and was forced to settle with 11th for tomorrow’s race.

Image Credit: MotoGP
Qualifying 1

As the session started, Fermin Aldguer quickly faced an issue and was forced to head back to the pits. Having enjoyed a strong weekend so far, it was clear he was keen to get back on to the track as soon as possible.

As the first flying laps were completed, it was Jorge Navarro who topped the timing sheets with a 1.37.670. Manuel Gonzalez, Marcos Ramirez and Lorenzo Dalla Porta slotted in behind him, taking the provisional Q2-progression places. However, it should have been Barry Baltus at the top of the timing sheets – after taking a shortcut at the end of his outlap, his first flying lap was cancelled due to track limits. He cut the final chicane as a shortcut to give him extra speed at the start of the next lap.

With just less than 10 minutes left on the clock, Navarro improves, staying at the top of the timing sheets, with a 1.37.285. Ramirez jumped up to second and Dalla Porta leapt up to third, meaning that Gonzalez was shuffled down to fourth. Baltus, who was able to keep his next lap time on the board, was only able to slot in to 12th.

Aldeguer was back on the track and clearly pushing the bike to its very limits – the machine was twitching underneath him at the end of Sector 2. It took him a good few laps to get back on the pace, with his first lap only putting him in ninth.

With just over seven minutes to go, Dalla Porta improved on his time again. However, it wasn’t quite enough and he was soon shuffled down by Alessandro Zaccone, Gonzalez and Baltus who put themselves in 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.

With 5 minutes left on the clock, Aldeguer temporarily leaps up to 2nd, only to have his lap time deleted for a track limits violation. He is clearly pushing as hard as he can after the mishap he faced at the start of the session. He keeps pushing and, with just over 3 minutes left of the session, he is able to jump to 2nd again – and this time it sticks! He pushes Baltus out of the top 4. Dalla Porta is the next to improve, jumping up to 3rd and pushing Gonzalez out of the top 4.

As the session draws to a close, Gonzalez makes up time in the final sector to jump up to 3rd. This pushes Aldeguer down to 5th with no opportunity left to improve. Finally, Baltus is able to steal 4th away from Dalla Porta in the final moments of the session.

Those progressing to Q2 are Navarro, Zaccone, Gonzalez and Baltus.

Qualifying 2

As the session starts, Baltus is the first out on track, clearly feeling in good form after his Q1 performance.

Bo Bendsneyder was also feeling in good form as he quickly went up to 2nd, with a 1.36.986. He sat just 0.1-seconds behind our early leader, Navarro. Dixon then slots in to third with his fastest lap of the weekend so far.

With 8 minutes left on the clock, championship leader Celestino Vietti crashes at turn 3. He locked the front, spun around and ended up in the kitty litter. He briefly considered getting back on the bike but the damage ended his session early. When his session ends, he is currently set for a second row start in tomorrow’s race. But just 1 minute later, he is shuffled back to the third row, leaving Vietti with a nervous wait in his pit box.

5 minutes are left on the clock when Joe Roberts leaps up to 2nd. Moments later, he is shuffled down to 3rd when Lowes takes provisional pole with a 1.36.767.

Augusto Fernandez then makes a risky move as he comes into the pits to change his tires with just 4 minutes remaining. With such little time on the board, he may struggle to get the tires up to temperature and into their sweet spot.

As the session draws to a close, Arenas takes pole away from Lowes, despite hitting traffic at the end of his lap. Ogura slots in to provisional third before Dixon crosses the line to leapfrog them all and snatch pole. Fernandez and his new tires are unable to secure a spot higher than 8th.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Vietti Victorious after a Chaotic Catalunya GP

Vietti took a stunning win at the Catalan GP after he fought his way back from a poor start to beat the rest of the field. Despite leading for much of the second half of the race, Canet was forced to settle for second as his first Moto2 win still eludes him. Fernandez made a late move on the final lap to claim the final podium place.

Celestino Vietti has given his championship hopes another boost today, taking his third win of the 2022 season in Catalunya. Despite starting on pole, he was forced to fight his way through the field as he dropped to fifth on the first lap. A well-timed move allowed him to take the lead from Spanish rider, Aron Canet, in the dying moments of the race.

The final podium spot was filled by Augusto Fernandez, despite Jake Dixon sitting within the top three for the entire race. He made a brilliant last-corner lunge to steal third from the Brit.

Despite a brilliant start and leading the first half of the race, today will be a day to forget for Joe Roberts who crashed out of the race, leaving him unable to repeat the success he enjoyed in Portugal.

As It Happened

As the lights went out and the race started, Dixon and Roberts enjoyed a strong start as they leapt up to first and second respectively. Canet slotted in behind them in third whilst Vietti dropped from pole down to fifth. Sam Lowes also struggled at the start of the race, dropping from sixth to 11th. Marcel Schrotter, trying a different strategy on harder tyres, moved up from ninth to seventh.

A few corners into the race and Roberts made a move on Dixon, taking the lead and he shot down the inside of the British rider. By the time the grid started their third lap, Roberts had a 0.4s lead on Dixon, whilst Canet set the fastest lap time just behind them. These fast times allowed Canet to quickly get himself up to second, just ahead of Dixon.

Further down the pack, our top two championship contenders were battling for fifth – Vietti was just ahead of Ai Ogura, with the pair jostling and swapping position with every lap.

On lap three, we had our first crash of the race as Alex Toledo went down at Turn 10. This was not the end he had been hoping for as he entered his first Moto2 race to replace the injured Gabriel Rodrigo. The following lap saw Filip Salac end up in the kitty litter, as he crashed out from 13th whilst trying to follow Pedro Acosta. Three laps later and it was Cameron Beaubier who went down, suffering a fast crash at Turn 14.

Meanwhile, Vietti and Ogura were still battling, with Vietti only just ahead in fifth. Ogura then made an uncharacteristic mistake as the front started to slide from under him – he managed to keep the bike upright but, in doing so, he dropped down to seventh. He then lost another place to Schrotter, who stole seventh place from him on lap nine. Ogura was simply unable to fight back and failed to make any other significant moves during the race.

Lap ten saw Roberts enjoying a 2.4s lead as Dixon makes a move on Canet for second. He bumped in to the side of the Spanish rider and stole second place. However, disaster struck just one lap later when Roberts suffered a crash at Turn 5. Late in the corner, the bike slid from under him and he found himself stuck in the kitty litter.

This meant that we now had Dixon leading the way, just ahead of Canet in second and Albert Arenas in third. This also promoted Vietti up to fourth whilst Ogura was still stuck in seventh.

At this point in the race, Vietti seemed to come alive and started making his way through the field. He quickly took third from Arenas and started to reduce the gap to the leading pair ahead. At the same time, Canet, who was the fastest rider on the track, made a move on Dixon to lead the race for the first time. Dixon shortly found himself under yet more pressure as Vietti quickly closed the gap and, on lap 15, he made a move to take second away from the Brit.

As we approached the final lap, everything was hotting up – Fernandez and Schrotter both came past Arenas whilst Lowes was battling with Ogura.

On lap 17, with just four laps remaining, Vietti finally made his move for the lead. However, he wasn’t able to keep this for long and, on lap 18, Canet found the slipstream on the start-finish straight and regained the lead.

The final lap started with Canet in first, Vietti in second with Dixon third and Fernandez fourth. The top four were incredibly close, with barely a hair’s width between them. In the final sector, Vietti and Canet bumped into each other as Vietti made an aggressive, but successful, move for the lead. Just behind, Dixon lost his podium place to Fernandez as he made a perfectly timed lunge at the final corner.

Championship Standings

As the only rider to win multiple Moto2 races this year, Vietti remains at the top of the championship standings with 133 points.

In second place is still Ogura, but the gap has now been extended to 16 points after he was unable to make waves in today’s race.

Third in the standings belongs to Canet on 109 points, just ahead of Fernandez and Tony Arbolino in fourth and fifth.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Maiden Pole for Acosta at Le Mans

Having previously never started a Moto2 race from the front row, rookie Pedro Acosta will have the honours of leading the field off the line for tomorrow’s race as he clinched his maiden pole. He will be joined on the front row by Jake Dion and Augusto Fernandez, as Sam Lowes and Ai Ogura both crash out.

Before the 2022 Moto2 season had begun, many had their sights set on rookie rider Pedro Acosta and predicted he would be a title contender. However as the season kicked off Acosta was nowhere to be seen, unable to qualify higher than 10th or finish a race higher than seventh.

With the sun shining down on the Le Mans circuit, it seemed that today would be Acosta’s day. He hit the top of the timing sheets with over three minutes remaining in Q2, with a time of 1:35.803 that no one was able to challenge.

Joining him on the front row will be Jake Dixon, who was able to put together a brilliant lap despite seeming to struggle to find his flow all weekend, and Augusto Fernandez.

Lining up in sixth for tomorrow’s race will be new boy, Alonso Lopez, who is replacing Romano Fenati. On his first step up from Moto3, he laid down an impressive performance to secure a second row start for tomorrow.

It was a much trickier day for Sam Lowes and the two Honda Team Asia riders, Ai Ogura and Somkiat Chantra, as all three riders crashed during Q2. However, thanks to some early banker laps, they will start tomorrow’s race from fourth, eighth and 11th respectively.

Our championship leader, Celestino Vietti, has struggled for pace all weekend, forcing him to join the Q1 group. These woes continued throughout the session as he failed to sit within the top three even once in the session. He was unable to progress to Q2 and will start tomorrow’s race from the lowly 19th spot on the grid.

Image Credit: MotoGP
QUALIFYING 1

As everyone completed their first flying laps of the session, it was Manuel Gonzalez who jumped to the top of the timing sheets first. He set an initial benchmark of 1:36.645. Behind him was Lorenzo Dalla Porta in second, Jorge Navarro third and Vietti in fourth – all had provisionally booked a place in to Q2.

With eight minutes left on the clock, Alessandro Zaccone crashed at Turn 8, bringing out yellow flags in Sector 3. Less than a minute later, Sean Dylan Kelly crashed at Turn 14 to bring out yet more yellow flags, this time in at Sector 4. The biggest looser from they yellow flags seemed to be Joe Roberts who was just appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

With just less than five minutes of the session remaining, Niccolo Antonelli became the next victim of the tricky Le Mans circuit, as he crashed at Turn 8. Lucky he was unscathed as he returned to action following surgery for arm pump earlier in the week.

At this point in the session, Dalla Porta was at the top of the timing sheet with Fermin Aldeguer, Bo Bendsneyder and Navarro just behind him. There was just 0.04s covering there top four riders and everything was still to play form.

Sitting just outside the top four was Vietti who returned to tack for some final flying laps with four minutes left in the session. He had just enough time to complete three flying laps and, whilst each was an improvement on the last, he still wasn’t able to break in to that elusive leading group. Whilst his lap times were fastest that most in sectors one and two, he was loosing out considerably in sectors three and four.

The checkered flag fell and with no one able to improve on their lap times or challenge the top four, it was Dalla Porta, Aldeguer, Bendsneyder and Navarro who progressed to Q2.

QUALIFYING 2

The first flying lap of Q2 was set by Lowes on the Elf Marc VDS machine. He then improved on his early banker lap with a 1:36.071. In hindsight, this lap would prove vital as with nine minutes left on the clock, he suffered a horrible highside at Turn 8. The rear of the bike stepped out as he exited the corner, causing a highside which threw him down on to his shoulder before the bike hit him in the back.

Just moments before this incident, Ogura also crashed at Turn 8 – in an uncharacteristic move, the bike slid from underneath him as he touched the throttle to exit the corner. This combination of incidents resulted in yellow flags waving across both Sector 2 and 3.

As the session continued, and with just seven minute remaining, a number of riders seemed to pick up the pace – this included Acosta and Dixon who were setting flying sector times. As Acosta jumped up to third, the provisional grid was lead by Lowes, Albert Arenas and Acosta. Lopez, on his first Moto2 outing, was in provisional fourth ahead of Ogura in fifth.

With three minutes to go, Fernandez leapt to the top of the timings, only to have provisional pole snatches away moment later, as Acosta crossed the line. The next bike across the line was Dixon, who split the leading pair to take second. Lowes had now been shuffled off the front row and had no way to fight back as he sat in the garage.

As the checkered flag fell, no one looked to be able to improve on their times or challenge the leading pair. The final nail in the coffin came when Chantra suffered a fast front end crash at Turn 10 bringing out the yellow flag at sectors 3 and 4 and halting anyone from challenging Acosta.

Further down the grid, Aron Canet took seventh after a quiet and difficult weekend. Bo Bendsneyder was the best Q1 progressor in ninth, just ahead of Tony Arbolino in tenth.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Flawless Ogura Takes a Dominant Win in Jerez

Ai Ogura has won his first every Moto2 race at the Spanish GP in Jerez. He was joined on the podium by Aron Canet, who takes second despite recently having surgery, and Tony Arbolino in third.

The Angelo Nieto circuit was the setting for Ai Ogura’s stunning maiden Moto2 race win. Having taken pole position yesterday, he flew off the starting grid and lead every lap on the way to victory. This dominant victory was celebrated by the whole Honda Team Asia crew.

Joining him on the podium was home hero, Aron Canet in second. This result comes just six days after Canet underwent surgery on this broken left arm, caused by a crash last time out in Portugal. As he celebrated with the Flexbox HP40 team, the emotion and pain he felt was evident.

The final podium position was taken by Tony Arbolino on the ELF Marc VDS machine. Having battled with Canet in the early stages of the race, he soon settled in to third and was unable to make any further challenges on the top two.

A number of riders faced a far more difficult day, with many failing to see the checkered flag. The first rider to crash was Pedro Acosta, shortly followed by Romano Fenati. Sam Lowes and Somkiat Chantra were the next to crash out, after both had been running in fourth. Jake Dixon and Fermin Aldeguer collided in the middle of the race before Marcos Ramirez crashed on the following lap.

Image Credit: MotoGP
As it happened:

As the lights went out, Ogura enjoyed a brilliant start and flew off the line with ease. Behind him, the two ELF Marc VDS riders struggled and dropped places as they were swallowed by the field. At the end of lap one, the top three riders with Ogura, followed by Canet and Arbolino.

Lowes was pushing hard, clearly eager to make amends for his poor start and catch up with the leading group as quickly as possible. In a single lap, he progressed from eighth to fifth and was starting to close to gap to fourth place.

At Turn 6 on the second lap, Acosta made a move down the inside of Aldeguer which ended with the bike folding underneath him. Aldeguer was lucky to stay upright and keep racing as Acosta ended up in the kitty litter.

Back on track and Chantra was the fast man in fourth. Lowes continues to chase him down and, whilst doing so, steals the fastest lap honours from the Honda Team Asia rider.

On lap three, Arbolino is able to get past Canet whilst Ogura continues to lead. With Lowes now in touching distance of Chantra, we looked set for a five-way battle for the win.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Turn 8 on the fifth lap saw Fenati land in the kitty litter – with numerous rumours burning around the paddock about his future, this result will continue to pile the pressure on the Italian’s shoulders.

The following lap saw Canet looking to take second place back from Arbolino. He made a few moves but was unable to make them stick until they reached Turn 9. Shortly after, Lowes is able to duplicate this move and gains fourth place from Chantra at the same point on the track.

However, just one lap later, Lowes crashed out at Turn 8 – the bike tucked underneath him and there was nothing he could do but slide in to the kitty litter. This promoted Chantra to fourth – but not for long. At Turn 9 of the eighth lap, Chantra faced a similar fate as he crashed out of fourth.

Further down the grid, at Turn 13, Dixon was battling with Aldeguer. The British rider made a move down the inside was was unable to keep the bike upright. As he fell, he clattered in to Aldeguer and dragged him in to the kitty litter with him. Both riders was visible agitated as they quickly argued about who was to blamed.

At this point in the race, on lap 10, our podium positions were provisionally filled by Ogura, Canet and Arbolino. There was then a comfortable 2.5s gap to Augusto Fernandez, Celestino Vietti and Marcel Schrotter in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Just behind them came Bo Bendsneyder and, our winner from last time out, Joe Roberts battling for seventh. It was Robert who came out on top of this battle. On the same lap, Ramirez went down at Turn 1 to end his race prematurely.

Ogura continued to set the pace from the front of the pack as the race seemed to settled down in the latter stages. Gaps were forming between riders and chasing groups. There was 1.5s between between Ogura and Canet in second, then a further 1s gap between Canet and Arbolino in third.

As the race drew to a close, the gaps settled and no one was able to make any significant impact on the result. So as the checkered flag fell, Ogura crossed the line ahead of Canet in second and Arbolino in third. Just behind them was Fernandez, Schrotter and Viettie in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Bendsneyder came out on top of the battle for seventh, just ahead of Roberts. The top ten was rounded out by Albert Arenas and Jorge Navarro.

Championship standings:

A sixth place finish means that Vietti is still at the top of the standings with a round 100 points. Ogura has closed his lead down to just 19 points.

Moto2 will be back in action in France on the 13th to 15th of May. Crew on Two will have all the action and coverage for you.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Ogura Takes First Moto2 Pole in Jerez

Ai Ogura will start tomorrow’s race in Jerez from pole position – the first of his Moto2 career. Joining him on the front row will be the ELF Marc VDS paining of Tony Arbolino, in second, and Sam Lowes, in third.

Ai Ogura has claimed his first Moto2 pole position ahead of tomorrow’s race at Circuito de Jerez. He set a time of 1:41.289 with ample time to spare in Q2. In fact, the end of the session was quite anticlimactic as tire performance hampered the top ten from improving on their lap time.

Joining Ogura on the front row will be both ELF Marc VDS riders. Tony Arbolino bested his team mate by just 0.032s, leaving Sam Lowes in third.

Aron Canet, who despite undergoing surgery on Monday as a result of a crash last time out in Portugal, was able to secure fourth for tomorrow’s race start.

Despite leading every session of the weekend so far, Jake Dixon was unable to find his rhythm in qualifying and was forced to settle for 11th ahead of tomorrow’s race.

Qualifying 1:

The first half of qualifying was a relatively uneventful session with Somkiat Chantra taking the lead early on in the session and remaining mostly unbeatable. His third flying lap of the session was an unbeatable 1:41.965 – the fastest lap of the weekend so far and simply unbeatable in Q1.

Despite laying down such a phenomenal time, Chantra was still pushing but was unable to beat his own time.

The session ended with Jorge Navarro in second, Albert Arenas in third and Bo Bendsneyder in fourth – all riders progressed in to Q2.

Behind them was Marcos Ramirez, Manueal Gonzalez and Alessandro Zaccone in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Rounding out the top ten was Filip Salac, Jeremy Alcoba and Zonta Van Den Goorbergh.

Qualifying 2:

As the pit lane lights went green, all riders were quick to head out on track. Sam Lowes was at the back of this pack, clearly eager to be the last rider on the grid to set a flying lap.

With 10 minutes left in the session, Navarro’s bike wobbled under him and he ended up in the kitty litter at Turn 1. He was almost able to save it, temporarily pushing himself back up with his knee, but as his elbow hit the floor the bike slipped from under him.

Shortly after, and having luckily missed the yellow flags, Lowes hit the top of the timing sheets with a 1:41.696. It didn’t take long for him to find his rhythm and hit the pace. It was in the following flying lap that most other riders found their pace. Canet stole provisional pole from Lowes, before quickly being bested by Arbolino as he set the fastest lap of the weekend – a 1:41.299.

During this battle for pole, Jake Dixon was stuck down in a disappointing ninth, seemingly unable to find his rhythm as he kept bailing out of his flying laps. This lack of pace was surprising after Dixon lead all previous sessions across the weekend.

With four minutes left on the clock, Ogura leapt up to provisional pole with a stunning lap of 1:41.289. Just behin him was Arbolino in second, Lowes in third and Canet in fourth.

As the session drew to a close, everyone’s tires seemed to loose performance and no one was able to challenge those top four runners. In fact, none of the top ten riders were able to improve on their lap times as the checkered flag fell.

So the session ended with Ogura claiming his mainden Moto2 pole, just 0.010s ahead of Arbolino in second and Lowes in third. The second row will be filled by Canet, who has made a miraculous recovery after his survey on Monday, Fermin Aldeguer and Celestino Vietti. The top ten was completed by Chantra, Pedro Acosta, Dixon and Arenas.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

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