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MotoGP Austria: Ogura out front in Moto2

Idemitsu Honda’s Ai Ogura outpaced the field in Friday practice as Moto2 returned to Spielberg ahead of the AustrianGP.

The Japanese man set the pace in FP1 with front-runners Augusto Fernandez and Remy Gardner claiming second and third overall, the latter thanks to improvements made in the afternoon while Sam Lowes completed day one in seventh.

The intermediate class’ first practice saw Aron Canet take an early lead from Lowes before Marcel Schrotter advanced the times with his third lap - a 1’28.988. Marco Bezzecchi, Gardner and Raul Fernandez all immediately up to speed as the 40-minute session wound up, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Xavi Vierge also staking their claims on the top-10 as the fourth laps came in.


Jake Dixon was on the move after eight minutes of action, circulating in sixth - just half a second off the leading pace - and with Lowes for company, just 0.006s back, before his fellow Brit continued his climb.

Cameron Beaubier became the first vicim of the Red Bull Ring’s turn one, as the American Racing rider high-sided out of the opening corner, almost collecting Canet on his way through and lucky to avoid any major disasters.

The Idemitsu Honda riders were the next to strike, as Somkiat Chantra found fourth with Ogura eighth. Augusto Fernandez and Tony Arbolino rounding out the top-10 before the Spaniard advanced to seventh two laps later.

The second half saw Ogura continue to shine as he bettered fellow rookie, Fernandez, for third, just two-tenths adrift of the overall pacesetter, before hitting the top with a 1’28.887. Lowes too was up to fourth as the session approached the final 10-minutes, with Dixon circulating in 13th.

The final shuffle saw Dalla Porta push his way into the top-three, before the Marc VDS of Fernandez displaced him on his way to second. Ogura held fast at the top, a mere 0.007s from the late-charging Spaniard as he session concluded. Schrotter’s fourth lap effort strong enough fro third with Bezzecchi and Dalla Porta heading Lowes in the top-six. Dixon completing his morning’s work in 17th.

It was a Fernandez double as the afternoon session fired up, with KTM outpacing Marc VDS by just 0.025s, the damp track almost dry after an earlier lunchtime downpour.

Schrotter sat third from Jorge Navarro and Lowes after the opening 10-minutes, fellow Brit, Dixon firmly on his wheels in sixth.

Lowes’ teammate took his turn at the top on his eighth lap, with a 1’29.210, as the Brit himself advanced to fourth. Joe Roberts arriving alongside Dalla Porta after a lacklustre morning to head an Italtrans lockout in fifth and sixth. Navarro, Bezzecchi, Ogura and Arbolino rounded out the top-10 at the halfway stage with times still half a second adrift of the morning pace.

The closing 15-minutes saw Gardner join his Ajo partner in the top-three as Chantra wheelied his way to sixth. Hector Garzo crashing out as his front end folded at turn three.


The Fernandez battle switched again with ’10 to go, but it was Lowes on the move seconds later, taking control with a 1’29.161, and just 0.049s covering the trio. A turn four off saw Bezzecchi across the gravel with nine minutes remaining.

KTM locked out the top of the standings with the Marc VDS and Aspar pairs following suit behind as Gardner took charge of proceedings, improving on his morning effort to sit third overall. Ogura’s climb spoiled the pattern two minutes later, however, as the Honda rider swept to second in the session.

A final flicker of activity saw Dalla Porta take sixth and Schrotter ninth with Gardner remaining in command and Albert Arenas unlucky to crash as the flag came out. Lowes finished in fourth as the lead Elf rider, with Dixon further back in 13th.

The overall advantage went to Ogura thanks to his powerful opening practice, with Augusto Fernandez, Gardner, Schrotter and Bezzecchi claiming the top-five. Lowes finished the day seventh in the combined standings with Dixon 18th, while both KTM Ajo riders were the only two from the top-15 to improve their times in the afternoon session.

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