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

Moto2: Arbolino Takes Maiden Win at COTA

Tony Arbolino secures his first win in Moto2 as both Celestino Vietti and Aron Canet crash out of the lead. Ai Ogura takes second ahead of Jake Dixon who takes his maiden Moto2 podium.

Tony Arbolino laid down a cool, calm and collected performance to take his maiden win in Moto2, despite tricky weather conditions. He found himself in the lead of the race after two front runners, Celestino Vietti and Aron Canet, crash out in the early stages of the race, potentially caused by those windy conditions.

Ai Ogura came home in second, having made huge strides from his starting position of 11th. This is his second podium in as many races – the first time he has achieved this in Moto2. He was joined on the podium by British rider, Jake Dixon, who enjoyed his first podium in Grand Prix racing.

Pole sitter and home hero, Cameron Beaubier had a difficult day – he was shuffled back in the early stages of the race and, despite making up ground, crashed out in the dying moments of the race.

As it happened

As the lights went out, Beaubier had an initial good start but was quickly shuffled back to fourth. Vietti flew off to take first, just ahead of Canet in second and Arbolino in third. Dixon slipped down to seventh whilst Sam Lowes jumped up to eighth.

The early stages of the race were filled with drama as the riders got to grips with those challenging conditions. Six riders all ended up in the kitty litter at the end of the first lap. As the grid came to turn 12 on the first lap, Somkiat Chantra hit the rear wheel of Sam Lowes’ bike as he mistimed his breaking. This then created a domino effect as Zonta van der Goorbergh hit Gabriel Rodrigo and the pair collected Fermin Aldeguer. Augusto Fernandez was lucky to not fall along with this group, however he was shuffled down to 15th as a result of the drama.

Rookie Pedro Acosta then crashed out from fifth in a separate incidence on lap four – he hit the ground at turn three before sliding dangerously across the track. Whilst all riders walked away unscathed, Rodrigo and van der Goorbergh were taken to the medical centre for a precautionary check-up.

On lap three, Canet found a way around the outside of Vietti at turn six, before firmly shutting the door at turn seven. With Canet now in the lead, he was able to pull out a 0.4s gap in the space of one lap.

On lap five, Vietti then crashed out from second place as the bike fell from under him at turn six. This promoted Arbolino up to second and Dixon up to third. Ogura was in fourth with Marcel Schrotter in an impressive fifth, despite starting down in 13th.

At this point in the race, Dixon was lining up for a move on Arbolino. This battle gave Canet the opportunity to put 1.5s of free air between himself and the rest of the grid.

However, everything went south for Canet shortly after as the front tire folds underneath him at turn seven on lap eight. He was almost able to save it but sadly ended up in the kitty litter. This promotes Arbolino to first, Dixon to second and Ogura to third.

Despite an initial challenge from Dixon, Arbolino was able to pull out a comfortable lead which he held for the remainder of the race. As the checkered flag fell, he had a 4s lead over his nearest competitors.

On lap 12, Dixon lost out on second place to Ogura after going wide – it is suspected that he faced a false neutral as Ogura came at him from very far behind.

A few laps later, just behind Dixon, Schrotter goes wide which allowed Beaubier past and into fourth. However, he wouldn’t be able to hold on to this position as the checkered flag fell.

Further retirements came from Simone Corsi who crashed on lap two, Alessandro Zaccone who retired on lap three and Niccolo Antonelli who retired on lap 14.

Championship Standings

Despite a tricky weekend, Vietti remains at the top of the championship standings with 70 points, with Canet in second and Chantra in third. Today’s podium finisher, Ogura, is fourth in the title fight with Lowes and Arbolino close behind.

However, if Canet had been able to hang on to the lead of the race, he would have left America as the championship leader. It will certainly be a weekend of “what if’s” for the Spanish rider.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Vietti wins first race of 2022 in Qatar

Celestino Vietti led every lap on his way to winning the Qatar GP. He was joined on the podium by Aron Canet in second and Sam Lowes, who was able to snatch third place after drama on the last lap.

The first race of the season gave Celestino Vietti his first Moto2 win – and it was a very comfortable and enjoyable win for him too! After starting on pole, Vietti flew off the line, quickly put clean air between him and the rest of the field, and then went on to lead every lap.

Vietti took the chequered flag more than 6 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Aron Canet. The Flexbox HP40 rider also enjoyed a strong start to the race – he climbed from ninth to second in only three laps. Once finding himself in second place, he faced no real challenge from the rest of the grid and took a comfortable podium finish.

Ai Ogura and Augusto Fernandez also enjoyed a positive start to their races. They each gained a place and got themselves up to fourth and fifth respectively.

Ogura leads the battle; Image Credit: MotoGP

On the first lap, Jake Dixon and Pedro Acosta both went too hot into the first corner, forcing them to sit up on the bike and go wide. This caused Dixon to fall back from seventh to 16th and Acosta to fall back from tenth to 21st. Having already crash the previous day in qualifying, this added to Acosta’s weekend woes.

Sam Lowes also faced a challenging start, dropping back from second to eighth. He quickly overtook Joe Roberts for seventh and was then gifted sixth place when Filip Salac crashed on lap three.

Having enjoyed a hugely impressive qualifying performance and starting the race as the top rookie in fourth, Salac was clearly disappointed to end have his race prematurely. He had a big highside at turn five which left him in the gravel looking a little shaken. Thankfully, he walked away unscathed but that corner has taken a number of victims this weekend, including Somkiat Chantra who broke a bone during a qualifying crash there.

Salac in the gravel; Image Credit: Gresini Racing

After this, Lowes now found himself behind his Elf Marc VDS teammate Tony Arbolino as well as Fernandez and Ogura – this quartet spent most of the remaining 18 laps jostling for the final podium position. This fighting helped Vietti and Canet to break away from the pack with such ease.

Two mistakes in the middle of the race saw Arbolino drop outside of the third place battle. Lowes quickly took Fernandez and Ogura within one lap of each other, with Ogura swiftly taking back third place honours. These battles allowed Arbolino to reduce the gap and rejoin the fight.

The battle for third; Image Credit: MotoGP

With only two laps to go, Fernandez made a very late move for fourth, throwing his bike up the inside of Lowes. He was then chasing down Ogura and made yet another late lunge. However, as Ogura fought back, he hit Fernandez, sliding in to him and sending himself wide.

Lowes capitalised on this drama to easily snatch third place from the pair of them. Fernandez managed to keep hold of fourth, narrowly missing out on his first podium with the KTM team. Arbolino crossed the line in fifth as Ogura dropped back to sixth.

Eighth and ninth were taken by the American pairing of Roberts and Cameron Beaubier. Marcel Schrotter, who is still recovering from a broken hand that was inflicted during the pre-season test, rounded out the top ten. He took that position on the line, narrowly beating Dixon who managed to recover from his terrible start to finish in 11th.

Acosta on track; Image Credit: MotoGP

Acosta, who was also recovering from his terrible start, fought back to finish in 12th. The final points scoring positions were filled by Albert Arena in 13th, Jeremy Alcoba in 14th and Romano Fenati in 15th.

Joining Salac in the group of non-finishers were Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Barry Baltus who, before retiring, enjoyed a phenomenal save – he managed to stay on the bike as it slid from under him by pushing himself back up with his hand.

After such a dominant performance, all eyes are firmly on Vietti and the wider VR46 Racing Team, who also enjoyed success in Moto3 just hours earlier. After struggling with injury throughout the official test, Lowes will be pleased to be back on the podium. However, after showing such sensational pace in testing, it’s fair to say that many were expecting more from Acosta this weekend. He will surely be keen to fight back as the grid return to action on the 18th to the 20th of March in Indonesia.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Vietti claims pole for Qatar GP

In the first qualifying session of 2022, it was Celestino Vietti who claimed his maiden pole position thanks to a track limits violation by Sam Lowes.

Celestino Vietti, on the Mooney VR46 Racing Team machine, will start the first race of the 2022 season from pole position. He set a time of 1:59.082 late in the session to claim his maiden pole. Both the Elf Marc VDS riders, Tony Arbolino and Sam Lowes, will line up behind him as they start the race in second and third respectively. The top three were covered by less than 0.15s.

Lowes will be disappointed with third after he set a time worthy of pole position, only to have it deleted shortly after due to a violation of track limits. However, after missing most of the official pre-season test due to tendonitis, the team will be pleased to see him back at the front of the grid. After winning twice in Qatar in 2021, most will be watching him closely on Sunday.

Filip Salac also enjoyed an impressive qualifying, securing a fourth place start for his maiden Moto2 race. This saw the Gresini rider taking the crown of top rookie during the session. Ai Ogura will start the race in fifth with Augusto Fernandez, who set the fastest time in both Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2, starting in sixth.

Much like Lowes, Jake Dixon also suffered with lap time deletions. He set a time that would have been good enough for a second row start however, thanks to a yellow flag infringement, he will line up in seventh for the race.

The top ten for tomorrow’s starting grid will be completed by Fermin Aldeguer and Aron Canet in eighth and ninth respectively. They are followed by Pedro Acosta, in tenth, who crashed at the final corner to end his first Moto2 qualifying session earlier than he would have liked.

Somkiat Chantra, who had been top of the timings sheet during a private pre-season test, also crashed during the session. He was taken to the medical centre for checks but is expected to be able to race tomorrow. He will line up in 18th.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Lowes Tops Private Test

Elf Marc VDS top the timesheets during a private two-day testing session in Jerez. Sam Lowes secured the fastest lap overall.

Sam Lowes has laid down an early marker ahead of the 2022 season, topping the timesheets during a private testing session in Jerez. Just behind was his new team mate, Tony Arbolino, in second. This was Arbolino’s first experience of the new bike and he spent the sessions working closely with the team to find a set-up that gave him maximum confidence in the machine.

Third place was taken by Celestino Vietti on the Mooney VR46 Racing machine. The top 3 were covered by a mere 0.140 seconds.

These close timings could suggest that Lowes’ main competitor in 2022 will be his own team mate. Both riders were looking very strong and Arbolino seems to be very comfortable on the Elf Marc VDS bike already. However, this test may not tell the full story as there were only 6 Moto2 riders involved, with a further 15 Moto3 riders joining them.

Image Credit: Marc VDS Racing Team

Lowes, who enjoyed 3 wins and a further 2 podiums in 2021, commented that he was “really happy with the work done in these two days”. He then went on to state that “I was trying lots of components, especially today. Yesterday was more about getting back up to speed. But today we tried many things. As always in testing, some were good, some weren’t. But we found a nice direction. It’s been a good two days to get back into the riding side of things.”

He summed up the two-day test by saying he “felt confident” and is “looking forward to Jerez and making steps so we are ready for Qatar.”

Image Credit: Marc VDS Racing Team

Arbolino, who is the new boy at Elf Marc VDS this year, stated “It was a great test! We worked really well during the two days and we tested many things. The team worked really hard to give me a better bike which allowed me to feel more comfortable on it. I’m really proud of them for that. From here we’ll keep going and keep working hard to reach our objective.”

Both Arbolino and Lowes will be back in action for one more private test on the 8th and 9th of February. They will then join the rest of the field for the only official test, commencing on the 22nd of February.

Feature Image Credit: Marc VDS Racing Team

Moto3 Report: Youngest Race Winner Romps To Final Victory

It was a whirlwind end to the 2018 season, and it definitely wasn’t predictable – Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was reserved and measured, John McPhee (CIP – Green Power) managed to step onto the podium and a relatively unknown 15-year-old won the race. Not your run of the mill race!

Can Oncu, Moto3, Valencia MotoGP 2018. Photo curtesy of Red Bull KTM Ajo

This race belonged to one man, and his fight for first place didn’t involve the usual competitors either – his name is Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and he left a rather big impression on Moto3 today. Starting as a wildcard rider, the youngster only managed to secure his place in the race because he won the Red Bull Rookies’ Cup and after qualifying fourth, it’s safe to say he dominated from very early on before taking Turkey’s first ever podium.

However, the race wasn’t as simple as Oncu romping to victory – Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) crashed out of second place and Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) had a mini high side which ripped first place from him.

The weather played a big part in the race, with 98 crashes taking place before the Moto3 race had even started and it’s safe to say many dashed hopes during the race too. Bezzecchi crashed twice (on the second crash both Redox PrustelGP bikes slide into the gravel trap), ending any chance of beating Fabio di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) to second place in the Championship, but that didn’t stop him trying. Rather foolishly, the Italian carried on riding even though his livery was badly damaged and scraping along the track – he pitted but his team only clipped the bodywork back in and he re-joined the race. But his misfortune didn’t end there, Oncu actually lapped him as the youngest rode away with what could have been his podium finish.

Marco Bezzecchi. Photo curtesy of Redox PrustelGP

Oncu didn’t just lap Bezzecchi though, he also lapped Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), his teammate for the race who had slide out of the race and re-joined too. Spectacular racing came from Arbolino who held his lead very well and is arguably the only person who could have stopped Oncu’s hunt for first place. McPhee also seemed to find something in himself and didn’t cecum to the wet weather condition, which due to a considerable ack of right-hand corners and cold tyres meant that many fell prey to it.

Di Giannantonio’s securing of second place in the Championship made it a Gresini 1-2 but you’d be forgiven for not noticing that due to the fanfare of Oncu’s race win. Arguably, the likes of Martin and di Giannantonio will be glad that they don’t have to race against such a talented and capable rider. Oncu, who snatched the record for youngest race winner away from Scott Redding on his final race weekend in MotoGP, and Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) who finished in a respectable tenth in his first really wet race in Moto3, will be dominant next year and they’ve arrived just in time for the changing of the guards.

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