MotoGP Buriram: Home pole celebrations for Chantra in Moto2

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Somkiat Chantra delighted the Thai fans with his first Moto2 career pole on home soil at Buriram.

A 1’35.625 secured the celebrations for the number 35 with teammate Ai Ogura completing the front row for the 24-lap race, in third. Elf Marc VDS’ Tony Arbolino split the pair in second, with just 0.085s separating him from the pole position.

While Inde GasGas Aspar’s Jake Dixon failed to improve on his Friday topping time during FP3, his pace was easily enough to secure promotion into Q2. Ogura commanded the early morning proceedings on just his second flying lap before consolidating his position thanks to a 1’35.556 next time around. Home talent, and teammate Chantra was in line for second until the closing stages before Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta and Arbolino denied him the honours.

Mooney VR46’s Celestino Vietti faced the Q1 fight after a disastrous run of form in recent races. The Italian setting the pace with a 1’36.038 as Master Camp’s Keminth Kubo, SAG’s Bo Bendsneyder and Italtrans’ Joe Roberts claimed the initial places in the top four. The returning Sam Lowes sat fifth at the halfway stage, just 0.017s adrift of the promotion zone, as he continued to improve his feeling with the Marc VDS Kalex following his Silverstone shoulder injury.

Kubo suffered a turn nine fall with four minutes remaining in the session but with no further challenges on the cards, the local rider progressed into Q2, albeit with a lot of work for the team ahead of the second 15 minutes.

The battle for pole began with confirmation that Acosta and Albert Arenas will line up for KTM Ajo in 2023 while Flexbox HP40’s Aron Canet crashed out on his first flying lap. Home hero Chantra led the times from the outset with his 1’35.625 from Arbolino and Vietti with Beta Tools Speed Up’s Alonso Lopez and Ogura fending off Dixon in the top six. Championship leader Augusto Fernandez sat ninth at the halfway stage with teammate Acosta yet to register a time. A major crash for Arenas at turn five saw the Aspar machine collect an oblivious Roberts at high speed, the confused American back on his feet but unable to progress from 17th.

Ogura continued the charge for the Idemitsu squad with four minutes to go as he completed the front row with his sixth lap. Acosta the next to rise, to fourth, as Dixon improved his time to better Fernandez from seventh.

American Racing’s Cameron Beaubier sat 11th as the final minute counted down. Dixon looking to improve further in the dying stages before the charge faded in the closing sector.

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