Ogura takes fifth as Kunii and Chantra join him in the top ten at Le Mans
The Asia Talent Team took another impressive finish at Le Mans, racing alongside the MotoGP™ World Championship as the second round of the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship got underway. Ai Ogura sliced back from a difficult wet qualifying to take fifth, with Yuki Kunii also moving through the field to finish in seventh - just beating reigning Asia Talent Cup winner and second row starter Somkiat Chantra over the line.
Chantra got a great start and escaped any first lap incidents to challenge for the lead first time round the Bugatti circuit, with Kunii making up a position into P15 in another good start for the Asia Talent Team rider. It was Kazuki Masaki and Ai Ogura soon on the fight back from much further down the grid, however, soon joining Chantra in the fight for the top ten.
Mid-race saw the three riders battling in the second group after the front four had escaped, with Kunii slightly further back in the points but moving through the freight train to hone in on the top ten as the laps ticked down.
With six laps to go, Masaki lowsided out of top ten contention at Garage Vert, back on the bike and safely rejoining but outside the points and top twenty. Disappointment for the Japanese rider in round two in P24, but after some impressive pace and having completed all the laps – important track time as he gains yet more valuable experience.
Further forward, the final lap began with Ogura leading the Asia Talent Team charge in sixth, with Kunii in P9 and Chantra P11 as the field fought for position. Over the line after the last lap battles made for even better reading as Ogura took a top five in P5, and Kunii completed his comeback in style to take seventh – only just ahead of reigning Asia Talent Cup winner Chantra.
Alberto Puig, Asia Talent Team Director: "It was a difficult weekend, because of the weather and also because basically all riders didn’t know the track except Masaki. Here is a difficult situation because you only have two qualifying practices from scratch so it is difficult for them. Fortunately in the race it was dry and we put 3 riders in the top 10. Unfortunately, Masaki crashed. Overall it’s not a fantastic and crazily good result but it's reasonably good for the guys, I mean Ogura, Kunii, Chantra - who were racing in Le Mans for the first time. In the weather conditions they had never practiced in Le Mans, so it's ok for today."
Next up is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for round three – with two Moto3™ races and fifty points up for grabs as the Championship heads back south.