Somkiat Chantra has become the first Thai rider to qualify on pole position in Grand Prix history, and what better place to do it than at the OR Thailand Grand Prix? In a big afternoon for Idemitsu Honda Team Asia, Chantra not only secured pole with his 1:35.625, but its Moto2™ World Championship hope Ai Ogura qualified third-fastest. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) splits those two on the front row at the Chang International Circuit while Championship leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) will line up on the middle of Row 3 on Sunday afternoon.
A true delight for the home crowd! ????@somkiat35 makes history and STORMS to his maiden pole position! That is the first pole achieved by a Thai rider in GP history ????#ThaiGP ???????? pic.twitter.com/wFgI1HWy0U— MotoGP™???? (@MotoGP) October 1, 2022
The Thais star in Buriram
Two Thai riders started Q2 and the home fans were sent into raptures when Chantra went to the top with a 1:35.625 on his first flying lap. That effort had him three tenths clear of the field and the gap was still more than two tenths when Arbolino consolidated second position with a 1:35.839 next time through. ‘Tiger Tony’ got even closer a couple of laps later when he set a 1:35.710, before a big save when the front wheel of his motorcycle started to fold at Turn 1.
Meanwhile, Ogura, who Arbolino had used as a reference, had crept up to third with a 1:35.973 and then improved to a 1:35.889 in the final four minutes of the session. That effort would prove crucial in the battle for a front row berth when Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) clocked a 1:35.956 to climb to fourth, where he would remain. Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) came from Q1 to qualify fifth on a 1:35.973, with Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) also making it onto Row 2 on a 1:35.987.
Seventh went to Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) on a 1:36.106 and Fernandez set a 1:36.130 to qualify eighth, ahead of Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40), Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), Filip Salac (Gresini Racing Moto2™), Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), and Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP) in 14th.
How the rest of the grid looks
There was a dramatic incident halfway through Q2 involving Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) and Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team). Replays suggested that Arenas lost the front of his bike before it slid into the machine of the unfortunate American. Thankfully, Roberts was to his feet, albeit in obvious pain, and he is off to the medical centre for a check-up. They qualified 15th and 17th respectively.
The other local hero, Keminth Kubo, earned 16th on the grid after some running repairs to his Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team. He crashed late in Q1 at Turn 9 before being sent back out and setting a 1:37.360 in Q2. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) failed to set a time in the latetr 15-minute stanza of qualifying and is set to start 18th, having crashed early on at Turn 5.
In Q1, Vietti set the pace on a 1:36.038 and Kubo got through in second despite the aforementioned spill. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), who is set to make his first race start since the Dutch GP, missed the top four in the session by 0.017 seconds and will start 19th, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) and Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) joining him on Row 7. Niccolo Antonelli (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) crashed at Turn 9 with the chequered flag out – rider okay – as he qualified 28th.
Can Chantra turn a home pole into a home victory. The Warm Up is next for Moto3™ on Sunday morning at 10:20 (GMT +7), then the race itself gets underway at 13:20!
Moto2™ Q2 Top 10
1. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – 1:35.625
2. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.085
3. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 0.264
4. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.331
5. Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 0.348
6. Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.362
7. Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) + 0.481
8. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.505
9. Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40) + 0.639
10. Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team) + 0.691