Rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) rode a storming Moto3 qualifying session to take second place on the grid, equalling his previous best achieved at June’s Catalan GP.
The 18-year-old from Tokyo – who was fighting for a podium finish at last Sunday’s San Marino GP until he was knocked off by a rival on the final lap – has impressed the MotoGP paddock with his speed and consistency in his apprenticeship season. Ogura currently stands 12th in the points standings.
This is the home race of Madrid-born 17-year-old Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) who was delighted with his second-row performance, equalling his best grid position in sixth position. Tomorrow the Spaniard will aim to better his fourth-place finish at Barcelona in June.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) comes into this race from a super-strong run of qualifying and race results, including two pole positions and four consecutive podiums that moved him into third overall, from where he can mount a championship challenge. Today the 19-year-old Italian qualified seventh to lead an all-Honda third row.
Joining him on row three tomorrow will be Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) – first time winner at Misano last Sunday – and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) who chased the 21-year-old from Chiba over the finish line.
World Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) had a complicated Saturday. The 22-year-old Italian, who qualified on the fourth row, currently holds a 22-point lead over Spaniard Aron Canet, who will start from pole position.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) will also start from the fourth row, the 18-year-old from Yokosuka aiming for his fifth top ten of the year.
Ogura’s team-mate Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) will not race tomorrow. The 19-year-old from Fukuoka injured his right shoulder when he was knocked out of last week’s San Marino GP. He tried yesterday but the pain was too much, so he will focus on recovering for the four Asian races that follow this event.