Moto2: Chantra Storms to Pole in Japan!

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Delight for IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia with a stunning 1-2 here at their home Grand Prix in Japan. Somkiat Chantra was on fire today in Motegi and so far this weekend has been fastest in every session in Moto2. Chantra took pole with teammate Ai Ogura 2nd, and Jake Dixon rounding off the front row in 3rd.

Disaster for Tony Arbolino today qualifying in 13th place. With championship rival Pedro Acosta heading up the second row tomorrow in 4th. Arbolino has it all to do in tomorrow’s race, to try and stop Acosta running away with the championship this year. 

Image Credit: MotoGP

AS IT HAPPENED

Qualifying 1

Jake Dixon lead the pack out of the pits onto the track for the Q1 session. Dixon a shock name in the session and had never failed so far this season to get into Q2.

As Dixon approached the end of his out lap, several riders were queuing ready to follow Dixon round the track. Dixon stating before the weekend that Motegi was one of his favourite tracks.

As the first bunch of riders posted their first flying lap times, Alonso Lopez set the benchmark for the rest of the field. Lopez having to serve a double long lap penalty this weekend after the carnage last weekend in India.

With 10mins left of the session, the top 4 currently heading into Q2 were Lopez, Bo Bensneyder, Zonta Van De Goorbergh and reigning Moto3 champion Izan Guevara.

Mattia Casadei lit up the yellow flags in sector 2, going down at turn 6. Casadei with his 3rd crash of the weekend. A tough weekend so far for the Kalex rider.

7mins of the session remained. Dixon and Binder lit up the sectors red and as they all crossed the line, Binder went quickest with a time of 1:50.294. Van De Goorbergh just +0.060 back to Binder and Dixon moved up into the top 4 in 3rd.

The riders back on the track now after a brief stop in the pits.  Lopez set a blistering lap time of 1:50.089 and moved to the top of the standings pushing Dixon down to 4th. Had Lopez set that time this morning, he’d of been 2nd quickest overall from the practice sessions.

Chequered flag out and the riders on current flying laps weren’t able to break into the top 4. The top 4 heading through to the Q2 session were Alonso, Binder, Van De Goorbergh and Dixon.

Qualifying 2

Both Beta Tools SpeedUp teammates Lopez and Fermin Aldeguer were the first to post times in the session, only to be blitzed moments later by Chantra posting a time just shy of the lap record of 1:49.977 seconds.

VD Goorbergh lit up the yellow flags in sector 1 just as Chantra broke the lap record with a time of 1:49.898. For 7 years Johann Zarco held the record, but finally broken today by Chantra and the provisional pole lap so far sat with the IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia rider.

Championship leader Pedro Acosta moved up into the 3rd after his first run, but only briefly as Dixon moved up to 2nd and Aron Canet into 4th. The front row with 6mins left in the session was Chantra, Dixon and Ogura.

Acosta and Dixon not giving up on pole went quicker with Dixon just +0.214seconds shy of Chantra’s provisional pole lap in 2nd, and Acosta in 3rd.

Tony Arbolino had a nightmare start to the session and with only a few minutes remaining was in 14th place. Arbolino’s teammate Sam Lowes was going better and up to 7th with a couple of minutes left in the session. Arbolino managed to finish 13th in the qualifying session. A disaster for Arbolino and will be looking to do all he can in the race tomorrow, to keep any championship hopes alive.

As the chequered flags waved, Ogura split Chantra and Dixon moving up to 2nd place to the delight of the team in the garage. A dream qualifying session for the IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia at their home race in Japan. Chantra quickest in every session so far this weekend! It will take a mighty effort from anyone to stop Chantra from taking the win tomorrow.

Qualifying Classification

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Official Starting Grid

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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: Vietti Holds Off Chantra To Take Composed Win in Argentina

Celestino Vietti was able to hold off significant and consistent pressure from Somkiat Chantra to win in Argentina. He was joined on the podium by both Honda Team Asia riders, with Chantra in second and Ai Ogura in third.

Celestino Vietti was able to extend his lead at the top of the championship standings with a win in Argentina. The win didn’t come easily as he was forced to pass pole-sitter Fermine Aldeguer and hold off a race-long challenge from Somkiat Chantra.

Our record-breaking pole-sitter, Aldeguer endured a horrible crash as he fought with Vietti. He limped his way back to the garage, the devastation clear on his face.

Chantra was thrilled with second place as he led home a double podium for Honda Team Asia. This result comes straight after his win in Indonesia, showing just how much that result has built his confidence.

The biggest story was the battle for third, which rumbled on for most of the race. In the end, it was Ai Ogura who came out on top, ahead of Aron Canet, taking the final podium position.

As It Happened:

As the lights went out, Aldeguer enjoyed a strong start and kept his place at the front of the pack. Tony Arbolino also enjoyed a good start, jumping up from third to second.

Augusto Fernandez, starting in second, had a horrible start and was quickly swallowed by the chasing pack. As they entered turn one, he hit the back of Ogura and crashed out. At the same time, he sent Manuel Gonzalez wide and tumbling down the grid. Fernandez has now failed to win a race since 2019 and will be eager to break this streak soon.

Shortly after, on lap four, Vietti made a late move at turn one and stole the lead from Aldeguer. He quickly found his rhythm and controlled the pack from the front.

With 16 laps to go, Vietti went wide a turn 13 allowing Aldeguer to make his move. As Vietti came back on to the racing line, he came across the front of Aldeguer who was then a passenger as he tumbled in to the gravel. It was a nasty crash that saw him limping away from the track with his arm around a marshal. The stewards deemed the drama as a racing incident with no penalties for either rider.

With Aldeguer back in the garage, Chantra was promoted to second and Canet moved up to third. Chantra quickly caught up to the leader, sitting just 0.2s behind him and breathing down his neck.

With 13 laps left to race, Vietti goes wide again at turn 13, handing the lead to Chantra. However, the same thing happens on the following lap with Chantra the one going wide this time, handing the lead back to Vietti.

As a gap opens up between second and third place riders, Ogura takes that third place spot from Canet. Shortly after, on lap 15, Canet forces himself up the inside of Ogura, only to loose this place three laps later – their ongoing battle allows this gap to open up a little wider. Canet pushes hard but is unable to find a way through until the final lap of the race.

Further down the grid, Jake Dixon was chasing down Arbolino and the rest of the top five riders. Despite sitting two seconds down the road, he was setting some blistering lap times and quickly catching up to Arbolino. Dixon’s moment came on lap 21 as Arbolino seems to start struggling, heading fifth place to the Brit.

At this point in the race, Arbolino wasn’t the only rider to struggle – A number of others were also facing difficulties as Gabriel Rodrigo crashes at turn nine, followed by Jorge Navarro at turn two and Lorenzo Dalla Porta at turn five. This meant that yellow flags were being waved around the circuits, temporarily halting Canet’s attack on Ogura.

On the following lap, with just two laps remaining, Vietti threw down the gauntlet as he finds more lap time and extends the gap to Chantra. At this point, it looked like the win was pretty much in the bag for the championship leader barring any drama or mistakes.

In the dying moments of the race, Canet was still looking for a way past Ogura. On the final lap, he finally forced Ogura to make a mistake as he went wide at turn five. Canet goes on to make a similar error two corners later, however he is just able to stay ahead.

It wasn’t until the penultimate corner that Ogura was able to retake third and, as the checkered flag fell, Ogura flew down the final straight to cross the line 0.1s ahead of Canet.

Just 1.5s earlier, Vietti crossed the line to claim his second win in three races – so far this season, he has only lost five points.

Having fought hard, Dixon managed to keep Arbolino behind him as the pair crossed the line in fifth and sixth respectively. Moto3 champion, Pedro Acosta finished in seventh, enjoying a better race this weekend. The top ten was rounded out by Albert Arenas, Bo Bendsneyder and Sam Lowes.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Chantra Fastest in Second Private Test

Thai rider Somkiat Chantra dominated the two-day private testing session in Jerez, closely followed by his team mate, Ai Ogura. Marcel Schrötter posted the third fastest overall time.

Ahead of the first and only official testing session next week, 20 Moto2 and Moto3 teams took part in a private test in Jerez. The session aimed to provide 49 rookies with much-needed time on track with their 2022 machines. In attendance were the likes of Alessandro Zaccone, Filip Salac and Jeremy Alcoba.

However, it was Somkiat Chantra who dominated the two day-long sessions. The Thai rider sat at the top of the timings sheet on day one, with a time of 1:42.213. He then found further improvements on day two, when he posted a 1:41.466.

Chantra will be eager to build on his much-improved 2021 season – his fourth and most successful season in Moto2, where his best result was a fifth at the Austrian GP.

Image Credit: Honda Racing

His Japanese teammate, Ai Ogura, was just 0.035s behind him, rounding our a truly successful testing programme for Honda Team Asia. This will be Ogura’s second year in Moto2, and his second year with the Honda team. He enjoyed an impressive rookie season, finishing the year 8th in the championship and taking his maiden Moto2 podium with a second place finish at the Austrian GP.

Marcel Schrötter and his Liqui Moly Intact machine posted the third fastest time of the session. Having not stepped onto the podium since early 2020, Schrötter will be looking to carry this promising testing performance through to his 10th full season in Moto2.

The official test for Moto2 will commence on the 19th of February 2022 and last for three days. The first race of the season will then take place less than two weeks later in Qatar, on the 6th of March.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

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