An emotional Ai Ogura declared his win ‘the best day of his life’ as he put in a ride full of fastest laps and overtakes to come through the pack and claim a memorable home win in the Moto3 Japanese Grand Prix, round sixteen of the championship.

The Idemitsu Honda team Asia rider had qualified down in 13th on the grid and a fiery start saw him up to third after one lap as pole man Canet lead the way.

Lap three saw Fermin Aldeguer exit from second, quickly followed by polesitter Aron Canet, who was leading when he pushed too hard to try for an early break.

That left Somkiat Chantra in control of the race, with Tony Arbolino and Alonso Lopez in the way of the #79’s dream win.

The Italian suggested a follow by tapping the back of his bike, but Ogura was soon past. A tough move and block on Lopez saw Ogura in charge and free to make and maintain a gap out front.

Crossing the line 1.192s ahead the Japanese rider was willed over the line by his team, including boss Hiroshi Aoyama, who was the last Japanese rider to win at home, back in 2006. It is Ogura’s third win of the season, keeping the Moto2 title in his sights.

Augusto Fernandez left it all on track to battle back from eleventh on the grid to push Ogura over the closing laps and retain a small championship advantage. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider put in a flurry of fastest laps, but Ogura responded, leaving the Spaniard second.

Lopez announced himself in the race when he hit the front on lap seven. Though he couldn’t stay ahead in the race he did hold on to third, only just ahead of Jake Dixon at the chequered flag for CAG Speed Up.

By contrast to the podium finishers who all made early gains, Dixon knew he would struggle to keep up and dropped back from his front row start to be back in eighth at the end of lap one.

Keeping his cool and knowing crashes ahead were very much on the cards after the Moto3 result, the British rider put in a patient performance, allowing him to almost stage a podium return, finishing fourth, but only just for Shimoko GasGas Aspar.

Chantra lead briefly, after his early strong start, followed by him sitting up on the bike initially gapped the pack. His hard tyre gamble didn’t pay off, causing him to run wide and lose ground on several occasions. The Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider brought the bike in in fifth, completing a strong home grand prix for the team.

Early contender Arbolino finished sixth for Elf Marc VDS, their only rider after Sam Lowes was withdrawn following his qualifying day crash.

Pedro Acosta, much like Dixon, let the race come to him, moving up to seventh by the chequered flag , a mixture of overtakes and gains from falls ahead allowing the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider to be able to make his way forward through the field.

Albert Arenas was a distant eighth on the second GasGas entry, with a further wait for ninth placed Bo Bendsneyder to reach the finish line for the Pertamina Mandalkia SAG Team. Filip Salac was almost three seconds behind him in a gapped section of the chasing group to complete the top ten for Gresini.

American Racing’s Cameron Beaubier got a huge start, catapulting him up towards the leaders before fading back to an eventual eleventh. Compatriot Joe Roberts found a way forward to take twelfth for Italtrans.

The riders were close in the run to the line but  Marcel Schrotter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) couldn’t find a way past for 13th. The remaining points on offer went to Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP) in 14th and Lorenzo Dalla Porta in 15th for Italtrans.


Crashes and Penalties.


No in race penalties were applied as those receiving a track limits warning exercised caution.

Like Moto3, there were plenty of crashes over the duration.

Manuel Gonzalez was declared fit after his earlier crash, but was first to exit.

Aldeguer lasted two laps longer, with Alessandro Zaccone not lasting much longer. At the same time Simone Corsi retired to the pits.

The next two crashes were crucial with Celestino Viettu’s spill all but ending his slim title dreams, with Canet next out and in the same situation after throwing away the lead in the race.

Niccolo Antonelli, Jorge Navarro and Jeremy Alcoba all also failed to finish.


Where does that leave the championship?


Augusto Fernandez pushing for second ensures he holds the lead in the title hunt, on 234 points he is just two ahead of Ai Ogura after his win cut into the difference,

Behind them Canet is a distant third on 177 points , 57 behind Fernandez and his early success means Vietti is still fourth despite his poor run of form. He is 72 points adrift.