A consistent run on one set of tyres saw Ai Ogura place himself perfectly ahead of his title rival by claiming pole position for the Moto2 Malaysian Grand Prix, round nineteen of the championship.

With both of the Japanese riders previous poles being translated to a race win, momentum is definitely in Ogura’s favour.

His best times, including the pole lap of 2m 06.405s came chasing around his team-mate at Idemitsu Honda Team Asia, Somkiat Chantra.

Tony Arbolino came closest to matching the #79 but fell 0.083s short on the Elf Marc VDS bike.

Aron Canet may be out of the title hunt, but still has an elusive win to rider for. He is well paced at another shot at victory form third on the grid for Flexbox HP40.

A frustrated Jake Dixon finished the session fourth. Seemingly annoyed with Albert Arenas (who finished the session 13th), with it implied that the pair would be working in unison after leaving the pits together. Dixon was not with the Spaniard on track, so the British rider made his own way, with advice coming from Fabio Quartararo as he went in for a tyre change.

Improvements were thin on the ground for all but Dixon had done enough to lead off the second row.

He is joined by Manuel Gonzalez. The Yamaha VR46 rider claimed his best grid position to date in fifth.

 

Mixed fortunes could spell trouble for Augusto Fernandez.

 

Now second overall, title hopeful Augusto Fernandez has been a constant at the top of the timesheets in Malaysia, but has also found turn 15 to be an issue for him, already having had more then one off at the corner.

The Red Bull rider arrives with what should be a small advantage, with no race in Malaysia since 2019, as has been the case for all the flyaways, he is one of the few to have ridden Sepang before. The last race only has Marcel Schrotter still in Moto2 inside that top ten, with everyone else having moved on (Fernandez was eleventh).

However, in qualifying those crashes came back to haunt the Ajo man, with him losing time being cautious in the final sector, enough to keep him from the front row each time.

His tentative laps left him sixth on the grid, with Ogura’s team-mate Somkiat Chantra making a late move up from tenth to seventh on used rubber to sit behind him on the grid.

His team-mate Pedro Acosta was not available to help the title challenger on his run either, the duo left the pits seperately. Acosta starts eighth.

Cameron Beaubier impressed on a new track for the American with a solid performance bringing him ninth for American Racing.

Alonso Lopez found his Beta Tools Speed Up Boscoscuro package less suited to Sepang. The winner in Australia starts tenth.

 

What happened in Q1?

 

First flying laps were key for most, with Italtrans rider Joe Roberts on top. Gresini’s Filip Salac was closest to the American. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans) also progressed and was one of very few to improve later, his fourth lap was his best. Salac fell at the start of Q2. Roberts went on to be the best of the riders to move into Q2 in eleventh.

Niccolo Antonelli (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) took the fourth slot as the only faller in the session.

Jeremy Alcoba just missed out in fifth, so starts 19th for Liqui Moly Intact GP.

Celestino Vietti’s (Mooney VR46) season continued it’s dramatic tail-off as he followed slower riders and finished the session sixth (20th on the grid).

 

Injuries and absentees

 

After Australia, several riders remain sidelined with injury.

Both Simone Corsi and Jorge Navarro are absent following their crash, much remembered for the absence of a red flag. The Italian has a finger injury so is replaced at MV Agusta Forward by David Sanchis (24th), a former CEV Moto3 ESBK supersport and endurance rider.

Navarro suffered a fractured femur after being hit by Corsi, and will miss the remainder of the season. Flexbox HP40 have employed Borja Gomez in his place, who also makes his debut in the championship. Gomez, who was the 2021 ESBK supersport winner and this season’s ESBK superbike runner-up starts 26th.

Zonta Van Den Goorburgh also fails to make the line-up for Sepang. He is replaced with Asia road racing competitor Azroy Anuar (28th) though at Petronas MIE Racing RW. Kazma Daniel (29th)returns after his 2020 season in the paddock as a wildcard for the same team.

An incident involving Aron Canet in FP1,which saw him take out Barry Baltus left the RW Racing GP rider out of the rest of the weekend with a heel fracture.

Sam Lowes was withdrawn from the rest of the season by the Elf Marc VDS team to aid his recovery from injury.