Emotional Ai Ogura proclaimed his victory ‘the best day of his life’ as he embarked on a journey filled with the fastest laps and overtakes to claim an unforgettable home win in the Moto3 Japanese Grand Prix, the 16th round of the championship.
The Idemitsu Honda Asia rider qualified for 13th on the grid, and the fiery start saw him rise to third after one lap with pole man Kanye leading the way.
The third lap saw Fermin Aldger slipped out of second, quickly followed by leader Aaron Kanet, who was ahead when he pushed hard to try for an early break.
That left Somkiat Chantra in control of the race, with Tony Arbolino and Alonso Lopez on the way to winning Dream #79.
The Italian suggested continuing by tapping on the back of his bike, but Ogura was close. A strong and damming motion on Lopez saw that Ogura was responsible and free to make a hole in the front and maintain it.
The streak crossed 1.192 seconds before the Japanese rider crossed the streak by his team, including coach Hiroshi Aoyama, who was the last Japanese rider to win at home, in 2006. This is Ogura’s third win this season, with the Moto2 title in sight.
Augusto Fernandes left everything on track to come back from 11th on the grid to push Ogura through the final laps and retain the small championship advantage. Red Bull KTM rider Ajo provided a series of quickest laps, but Ogura responded, leaving the Spaniard in second.
Lopez declared himself in the race when he crashed forward on lap seven. Although he couldn’t stay ahead in the race, he held onto third place, just ahead of Jake Dixon in the checkered flag of the CAG Speed Up.
In contrast to the podium finishers who all had early wins, Dixon knew he would struggle to keep up and slipped from his front row to start back in eighth at the end of the first lap.
The British rider kept calm and knowledgeable about his crashes ahead of him so much after the Moto3 result, he put in a sick performance, allowing him to come back almost to the podium, and finish fourth, but only for Shimoku’s GasGas Aspar.
Shantra drove for a while, after his early strong start, followed by sitting on the bike at the start. His hard gamble on tires didn’t pay off, causing him to run away and lose ground on several occasions. The Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider came out on the bike in fifth place, completing the home Grand Prix for the team.
Early competitor Arbolino finished sixth for Elf Marc VDS, their only rider after Sam Lowes withdrew after crashing on qualifying day.
Pedro Acosta, like Dixon, let the race come to him, and moved up to seventh with the checkered flag, a combination of overtaking and gains from falling in front of him allowing Red Bull KTM rider Ajo to work his way forward across the field.
Albert Arenas was eighth at a distance in GasGas’ second entry, with another waiting for ninth-placed Bo Bendsneyder to reach the finish line for Team Pertamina Mandalkia SAG. Philippe Salak was nearly three seconds behind in a section of the chase group to complete Grisini’s top ten.
American Racing’s Cameron Buber got off to a big start, propelling him to the leaderboard before fading back into the eventual 11th place. Citizen Joe Roberts found a way forward to take the twelfth place for Italtrans.
The riders were close to the goal line but Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) couldn’t find a way to get past 13th. The remaining points offered went to Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP) in 14th and Lorenzo Dalla Porta in 15th for Italtrans.
Malfunctions and penalties.
No penalties were applied in the race because those receiving a track limit warning were exercised caution.
Like the Moto3, there have been a lot of accidents during this time.
Manuel Gonzalez was declared fit after the earlier plane crash, but he was the first to walk out.
Aldeguer lasted two longer, with Alessandro Zaccone not lasting long. At the same time Simon Corsi retired to the pits.
The next two collisions were crucial with Celestino Vito dropping out to the point of ending his petty title dreams, with Kané exiting in the same position after taking the lead in the race.
Niccol Antonelli, Jorge Navarro and Jeremy Al Cuba also failed to finish the match.
Where does that leave the tournament?
Augusto Fernandez, who is pressing for second place, ensures that he retains the lead in the title hunt, with 234 points, only two points ahead of Ai Ogura after winning the difference,
Behind them, Canet is a distant third with 177 points, 57 points behind Ferrandis and his early success means that Vetti is still fourth despite his poor performance. He’s 72 points behind.