Ogura confirmed himself as one to watch for the future with a supreme first grand prix victory in the Moto2™ class at Jerez
One day after taking his first Moto2™ pole position, IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia’s Ai Ogura became a grand prix winner in some style with a brilliant ride at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España. The Japanese rider led all 23 laps around the Circuit de Jerez-Angel Nieto but his was not the only performance deserving of high praise. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) had broken his left radius and a finger on his right hand just a week ago in Portugal, but clenched his teeth to finish second, ahead of Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team).
Fourth went to Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), and fifth to Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), while World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) finished sixth.
The lead group of five emerges
Ogura got the holeshot from pole position while Canet climbed from fourth on the grid to second place when he went around the outside at the first corner. Fermin Aldeguer (Lightech Speed Up) emerged third from the opening corners, ahead of Arbolino, Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia), and Vietti. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) dropped back a handful of positions after he made contact with Chantra as field poured into the first corner.
Arbolino got past Aldeguer when they arrived at the Pedrosa Corner (Turn 6) for the first time, and the Spanish teenager soon found himself on something of a slippery dip down the order, while Lowes began his fightback from deep in the top 10.
Arbolino gained another place when he wrested second position from Canet as they ran through the stadium section on Lap 3, and when Lowes caught up to Chantra, who was still sitting just behind them, it became a genuine five-way fight for the lead.
Chantra and Lowes can’t handle the hot pace
Even just by starting the race, Canet had showed his incredible determination, and he was not about to roll over in his bid for victory. Just after two unsuccessful attempts to reclaim second spot from Arbolino, he made a third stick at Turn 9 on Lap 6. Right behind them, Lowes pulled off the same move on Chantra to elevate himself to fourth position.
It was not long, however, until a lead group of five became a lead group of three. Lowes was first to drop out of contention, hitting the deck on Lap 7 as he ran through Turn 8. One lap later, at the next corner on the race track, Chantra was out when he too folded the front end and crashed.
Fernandez inherited fourth position, having not long overtaken Vietti, and Aldeguer was back up to sixth. Then, on Lap 9, Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) tried to pass Aldeguer at the Lorenzo Corner (Turn 13), but dropped his bike and wiped out the early-race front-runner as well.
Ogura shakes them off and takes victory
Less than one second still covered the top three of Ogura, Canet and Arbolino at the end of Lap 13, which marked 10 laps to go in the Spanish GP. On Lap 17, however, Canet had a big moment at the Pedrosa Corner, allowing Ogura to skip several tenths of a second clear.
That was when the Japanese rider seriously started to pull away from the two rivals who had stuck with him for most of the race so far. Ogura’s margin was over a full second on Lap 18, and 2.7 seconds as he started the final lap.
When he took the chequered flag, the 21-year-old not only had his first victory in any Grand Prix class, but he also became the fifth brand-new Moto2™ winner of 2022. Canet finished 2.5s behind, and Arbolino was just over a second further back as he completed the podium.
Fernandez finished fourth, and Schrötter took fifth after an entertaining battle with Vietti, which was settled when the German squeezed through a small gap at the Pedrosa Corner on Lap 18. Seventh went to Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), ahead of Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), Albert Arena (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team), and Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40).
Alessandro Zaccone (Gresini Racing Moto2™) finished 11th, ahead of Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Stefano Manzi (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), who was entered as injury replacement for Keminth Kubo. The other two riders to score points were Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP) in 14th and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing team) in 15th. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) finished 20th after an early crash while running in the top 10, but Aldeguer eventually retired after his incident with Dixon.
In the World Championship, Vietti is now on exactly 100 points, but his lead over Ogura has been cut to 19 points.
Can Moto2™’s newest race winner make further inroads next time, will the VR46 rider hit back, or will we get another new race winner? Find out when Round 7, the SHARK Grand Prix de France, takes place at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix circuit on 13 May – 15 May.
Moto2™ Race Top 10:
1. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia)
2. Aron Canet (FlexBox HP40) + 2.509
3. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 3.669
4. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 5.358
5. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 9.245
6. Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 12.122
7. Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) + 13.918
8. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) + 14.064
9. Albert Arenas (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) + 18.980
10. Jorge Navarro (FlexBox HP40) + 27.767