Moto2: Ogura Takes First Moto2 Pole in Jerez

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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.

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Posted on 30th April 2022 for The PitCrew Online

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Moto3: Masia wins Chaotic Clash in COTA

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Jaume Masia has come out on top, winning in COTA, ahead of a seven-way battle that rumbled on for much of the race. He was joined on the podium by Dennis Foggia and Andrea Migno.

It was the experienced Moto3 riders who came out on top at the Grand Prix of the Americas today. The chaotic race saw seven riders battling for only three podium positions for most of the race. Eventually, it was Jaume Masia who came out on top, taking the lead on the final lap.

Masia hasn’t won a race since the first round of the 2021 season, making it an emotional return to the top step of the podium for the Spanish rider. Having spent last year in the shadow of his teammate and eventual 2021 Moto3 champion, Pedro Acosta, this win will provide him with some much-needed confidence.

On the podium were fellow Italian riders Dennis Foggia, in second, and pole-sitter Andrea Migno, in third.

As the race commenced, it was Deniz Oncu who took an early lead, passing Migno at the first corner. He took rookie Diogo Moreira with him as he leapt from his starting position of sixth up to second. Oncu and Moreira were then battling for the lead and came to be side-by-side on the long straight. As they crossed the line to start the second lap, Moreira swerves across in to Oncu’s path. Oncu was forced to back off and Moreira stole the lead.

Further back, Kaito Toba enjoyed a good start as he leapt up from eighth to fifth. However, Scott Ogden had a more difficult start as he was shuffled back to 17th, despite claiming his best qualifying result and starting the race in 12th.

Foggia and Masia also struggled and, by lap 4, they were quickly shuffled back to 10th and 11th despite starting second and fifth respectively.

On the same lap, Oncu took the lead back from Moreira. Shortly after, Xavier Artigas got the best of both of them and flew his way up in to the lead. Two laps later and Moreira was back in the lead of the race, only to be overtaken by Oncu shortly after.

At this point, a number of other riders joined the leading pack, stating their intentions for the win. Championship leader Sergio Garcia closed up to the leading three but then clashed with Daniel Holgado, who crashed in to him on the final corner. Both riders were able to rejoin the race but Garcia eventually retired on lap 13 and Holgado crashed again on the final lap of the race. Holgado will be disappointed with his race result today, as he makes his return from injury.

Lap 8 saw Ayumu Sasaki and Masia join the leading group, taking second and third respectively behind Oncu.

For much of the rest of the race, seven riders were battling at the front of the pack – these riders were Masia, Sasaki, Oncu, Moreira, Foggia, Artigas, and Migno.

As the grid started their final lap, Migno was leading ahead of Masia in second and Foggia in third. Moreira crashed at the first corner of the lap – he was trying to hard to make his way through the leading pack and showed his inexperience with a rookie error that ruined his hard work.

Due to a number of incidents around the circuit, yellow flags were hampering the progress of most riders and left it difficult to find a way past Migno. However, down the long straight, Masia made his move and took the lead. He went out wide and found himself on the rumble strips, giving some hope to Migno. However, as Migno tried to make his way around the outside of Masia at turn 19, giving it everything he had in an attempt to win, he ran wide and let Foggia through the inside to take second. Masia remained unbeatable out in front and crossed the line in first.

Just missing out on a podium finish was Sasaki in fourth, Oncu in fifth and Artigas in sixth.

Izan Guevara was deemed to have jumped the start and was given a double long lap penalty. As this wasn’t served quickly enough, the penalty then went up to three long laps. This should have ruined his race but he was able to climb back up the field and ended the day in seventh.

The top ten was rounded out by Carlos Tatay, Ricciardo Rossi and Tatsuki Suzuki in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Thanks to Foggia’s second-place finish today, he has now jumped to the top of the championship standings. He leads Garcia, in second, by 16 points. Migno is in third ahead of Guevara in fourth. Oncu is sitting in fifth ahead of today’s winner, Masia, in sixth.

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Posted on 10th April, 2022 for The PitCrew Online

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Moto2: Arbolino Takes Maiden Win at COTA

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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


Posted on 10th April, 2022 for The PitCrew Online

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Moto3: Migno Claims Pole for the Grand Prix of the Americas

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Andrea Migno has claimed pole position for tomorrow’s race in COTA. He will be joined on the front row by fellow-Italian, Dennis Foggia, and Xavier Artigas. Our championship leader, Sergio Garcia, had to settle for 11th.

Today’s qualifying session was dominated by Italian riders, Dennis Foggia and Andrea Migno – the latter rider was able to come out on top as he set a time of 2:15.814 to secure pole position ahead of tomorrow’s race.

Foggia was bested by only 0.067s, forcing him to settle for second for tomorrow’s race start. The front row will be rounded out by Xavier Artigas, who made his way through Q1 before posting an impressive time that was just 0.242s off pole.

The early pace setter was Izan Guevara, who eventually settled for 10th, before Migno jumped to the top of the timing sheets. Despite not opting for fresh tires part way through the session, Foggia was next to top the timing sheets.

It wasn’t until the final flying lap when Migno was able to lay down his pole-clinching lap – a time which simply couldn’t be bested by Foggia or Artigas.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Deniz Oncu, on the KTM Tech3 machine, and Jaume Masia, on the KTM Ajo machine, took fourth and fifth respectively. Rookie Diogo Moreira claimed sixth, ahead of Daniel Holgado who is returning from injury. The top ten is rounded out by Kaito Toba, Ayumu Sasaki and Izan Guevara in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

Three riders who made their way through from Q1 line up just outside the top 10 – Stefano Nepa, Scott Ogden, and Elia Bartolini took 11th, 12th and 13th respectively. This is Ogden’s best qualifying result in his rookie Moto3 year.

Our championship leader, Sergio Garcia, had a shocking day and was only able to claim 15th. He certainly seems to be off the pace after winning the last race in Argentina.

The grid will be in action at 2.30pm local time, and Crew on Two will have all the action for you.

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Posted on 9th April, 2022 for The PitCrew Online

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Moto2: Beaubier Takes Maiden Pole at Home Circuit

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Cameron Beaubier stuns home crowds to take his maiden pole position in Moto2. He will be joined on the front row by championship leader, Celestino Vietti in second and Aron Canet in third.

American track, American rider and American team – today’s qualifying ticked all the boxes for the fans in the grandstands. Cameron Beaubier is the first American rider to secure a pole position at home since 2010.

He will be joined on the front row for tomorrow’s race by Celestino Vietti who, despite leading the championship after a strong start to the season, was forced to make his way through Q1. It was Vietti who set the early pace in Q2 but was eventually forced to settle for second.

Aron Canet was able to take third, despite a late crash for the Spanish rider. He fell at turn 17 as the front end folded underneath him and left him in the kitty litter.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Canet wasn’t the only rider to crash as the riders seemed to fight with the COTA track – Augusto Fernandez crashed at turn 17 and, as a result, wasn’t able to set a lap time in Q2. Tony Arbolino crashed at turn 8 but was able to get back up, dust himself down, and set a time that was good enough for fourth. Similarly, Ai Ogura crashed at turn 11 whilst sitting in third. He was eventually shuffled down to 11th.

The various yellow flags caused by these crashes left a lot of riders needing to abandon their laps. However, no one was able to get close to Beaubier’s time of 2:08.751.

Albert Arenas and his GASGAS Aspar teammate, Jake Dixon, set the fifth and sixth fastest times respectively. Jorge Navarro, who has already been slapped with a long lap penalty for tomorrow’s race after crashing under yellow flags during FP3, will start tomorrow’s race in seventh.

Fermin Aldeguer has looked incredibly quick all weekend and set the eighth fastest time ahead of tomorrow’s race. The top ten was rounded out by Sam Lowes and rookie Pedro Acosta.

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Posted on 9th April, 2022 for The PitCrew Online

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Moto2: Vietti Holds Off Chantra To Take Composed Win in Argentina

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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.

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Posted on 3rd April, 2022 for The PitCrew Online

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Moto2: Amazing Aldeguer Becomes Youngest Moto2 Polesitter

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Rookie Fermin Aldeguer has become the youngest polesitter in Moto2 history, setting a 1:43.306 ahead of tomorrow’s race. Augusto Fernandez lines up in second, ahead of Tony Arbolino.

With the rules changing next year, Moto2 riders will all be 17 years of age or older. That is what makes today’s broken record so significant – it won’t be broken. Fermin Aldeguer will retain the honours of the youngest Moto2 pole-sitter for many years to come.

Even more impressive than his age is Aldeguer’s lack of experience – having skipped Moto3 and coming straight in to Moto2, Aldeguer had to spend the practice sessions learning the track which he did was remarkable ease. He topped both practice sessions before going on to secure a truly awe-inspiring pole position.

Augusto Fernandez was merely 0.15s behind, taking second place for tomorrow’s race. Tony Arbolino set some blistering sector times in Q2 but was forced to settle for third for tomorrow’s race.

QUALIFYING 1

Zonta Van Den Goorbergh set the early pace as the session began, whilst Gabriel Rodrigo was over-riding and fighting with his bike. As it stood, Rodrigo was in fifth and missing out on a place in Q2.

Cameron Beaubier then snatched the top spot on the timing sheets, laying down a time of 1:44.132. As the session progressed, this time would prove unbeatable and he eased in to Q2.

Manuel Gonzalez slotted in to second shortly after, sitting just 0.024s behind Beaubier. As the session progressed, he wouldn’t be able to improve of this time and finished as second quickest.

As the checkered flag fell, most riders were able to improve their lap times. One exception was Marcel Schrotter who, before today, held the Moto2 lap record at this circuit. He snatched fourth place by the barest of margins, pushing Lorenzo Dalla Porta down to fifth and out of the Q2 progression places.

The session ended with Beaubier at the top of the timings, followed by Gonzalez, Van Den Goorbergh and Schrotter, who all progress to Q2.

QUALIFYING 2

Thanks to a lack of track time faced by all riders, after the weekend’s schedule was reshuffled, the session was busy early on. Sam Lowes was the first out on track on the ELF Marc VDS machine.

The first flying lap of the session was set by Bo Bendsneyder. Shortly after, Somkiat Chantra slotted in to second despite a heart-in-mouth moment as he almost lost the bike in the final corners. Chantra faced a nasty crash in practice and was lucky to not be injured. However, his confidence seems to be unshaken as he fought hard in Q2.

With eight minutes left on the clock, our championship leader, Celestino Vietti shot up to the top of the timing sheets, only to be shuffled down shortly after by Augusto Fernandez. Less than a minute later, there was another change at the top with Fermin Aldeguer taking the top spot. Further down the order, positions were changing every time someone crossed the line – everyone around the grid was improving their times as the session progressed.

With five minutes to go in the session, Aldeguer was still fastest but was fighting with a bike that was drifting and shaking beneath him. He failed to improve on this lap as the session drew to a close.

He wasn’t the only one to fail to improve on his time. Despite the excitement in the middle of the session with people jumping around the timing sheets, in the final seconds of the session no one was able to make significant improvements.

So as the checkered flag fell, it was Aldeguer who took the honours of pole position, with Fernandez and Arbolino rounding out the front row.

The second row of the grid sees the two GASGAS Aspar riders, with Albert Arenas taking fourth place ahead of Jake Dixon in fifth. They are joined by Vietti who ended the day in sixth.

The top ten are rounded out by Chantra, Ai Ogura, early pace-setter Bendsneyder and Q1-progressor Gonzalez.

Lowes seemed to be lacking pace this weekend and was forced to settle for 11th. Pedro Acosta also struggled this weekend and, after his final lap time was deleted, he had to settle for 17th.

The action kicks off at 5.20pm tomorrow, local time, and Crew On Two will have all the latest updates for you.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP


Posted on 2nd April, 2022 for The Checkered Flag

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