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2 days ago
By motogp.com

Ogura, Sasaki and Suzuki hand Japan a day to remember

The Austrian GP was the first time since Rio 2001 that we saw two Japanese riders win on the same day

Sunday at the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich was a day to remember for Japan thanks to the exceptional efforts of Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) and Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing).

In the opening race of the day, Sasaki stunned us all. After his mistake at the British GP – which saw him take out World Championship leader Sergio Garcia (AutoSolar GASGAS Aspar Team) – the Japanese rider was handed a double Long Lap penalty for the Austrian GP. No one, apart from Sasaki and his team, thought that he’d have a chance of winning after dropping to as low as P24. But that’s exactly what the 21-year-old did.

It was a stunning comeback. Sasaki carved through the Moto3™ freight train like a hot knife through butter to eventually pip compatriot Suzuki on the run to the line, whose performance was also incredibly commendable. The 24-year-old latched onto the back of a charging Sasaki and finished just 0.064s away from victory for his best result of the season.

But what made Suzuki’s P2 more impressive was Honda’s difficulties compared to the KTM, GASGAS and Husqvarna machines. Suzuki was the only Honda rider in the top 11, with teammate Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) finishing a lowly P12, eight seconds behind.

Now, race winner Sasaki is an outside contender for the Moto3™ title. Two wins in three and five podiums in the last nine see Sasaki sit 55 points behind Garcia with seven races to go; difficult, but Sasaki certainly isn’t out of the equation. Meanwhile, Suzuki occupies P7 in the overall standings with 114 points.

Now, race winner Sasaki is an outside contender for the Moto3™ title. Two wins in three and five podiums in the last nine see Sasaki sit 55 points behind Garcia with seven races to go; difficult, but Sasaki certainly isn’t out of the equation. Meanwhile, Suzuki occupies P7 in the overall standings with 114 points.

Shortly afterwards, the Moto2™ race was underway and it was title-chasing Ogura starting on pole position for the second time this season. The last time he’d done so before was the Spanish GP – his other race win of the season. Now, it’s two poles, two wins in 2022. And after Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) struggled to make progress and Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) crashed out of P3, the Japanese star is the World Championship leader.

It wasn’t an easy ride home to P1 though. Idemitsu Honda Team Asia teammate Somkiat Chantra was also hungry for his second race win of the season. “P2 OK” read Chantra’s pit board as Honda Team Asia tried to tell the Thai rider that finishing as they were – Ogura P1, Chantra P2 – was perfect in terms of the Championship.

A day to remember for Japan? Absolutely. And 2022 has the chance to be a year to remember for Japan too. The last time we saw two Japanese race winners on the same day was Rio 2001, with Youichi Ui (125cc) and Daijiro Kato (250cc). The last time we saw a Japanese World Champion crowned was in 2009, when Hiroshi Aoyama – current Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Team Manager – won the 250cc title. Ogura is in pole position to claim the Moto2™ title as things stand, while Sasaki is on the hunt in the Moto3™ chase. 

A day to remember for Japan? Absolutely. And 2022 has the chance to be a year to remember for Japan too. The last time we saw two Japanese race winners on the same day was Rio 2001, with Youichi Ui (125cc) and Daijiro Kato (250cc). The last time we saw a Japanese World Champion crowned was in 2009, when Hiroshi Aoyama – current Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Team Manager – won the 250cc title. Ogura is in pole position to claim the Moto2™ title as things stand, while Sasaki is on the hunt in the Moto3™ chase. 

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