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Podium for the Junior Talent Team in Valencia

29 Apr 2018

Ogura takes the team’s top finish of the season so far after two close races at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo

Ai Ogura has taken the first podium of the season for the Junior Talent Team, putting it on the rostrum at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in the second of two close-fought races in the second round of the FIM CEV Moto3™ Junior World Championship. There were some top finishes for his teammates, too, and the weather stayed sunny and dry despite some high winds on Sunday.

Yuki Kunii headlined for the Junior Talent Team in Race 1, with the Japanese rider taking fifth and some big points – closely followed by Somkiat Chantra as the Thai rider came home in sixth; initially fighting with that front group before dropping off a little as the laps ticked on. Nevertheless, both finishes were top hauls of points for the two men – something Ogura missed out on in the first race of the day as the Japanese rider crashed out.

Gerry Salim had a tough first race but did beat Stefano Nepa and Ryan van der Lagemaat to the line by thousandths, taking P25, and was 27th in Race 2.

In that Race 2, Ogura was on a charge to bounce back and the Jerez 2017 race winner took an impressive first podium of the season to open the Junior Talent Team’s rostrum account for the year. The Japanese youngster was P3 and only a tenth and a half off second, and he led his two teammates home – with Yuki Kunnii in fourth and Chantra in fifth.  

The trio of top results and points make for great reading for all three, with Kunii now third in the standings after two rounds and Chantra only one behind him in P4, nine points in arrears. Ai Ogura currently rounds out the top ten in the Championship, and will be wanting to make up that ground next time out after his impressive podium form.

“The weekend was OK except for Ogura’s first race crash,” says Alberto Puig, Talent Promotion Director. “Race 1 overall was good because Chantra and Kunii could get points in both races, but not Ai Ogura. But overall we could say it was not bad. The conditions were tricky, but for everyone, and this is how it is. They were always in the top group and I think it was a good way to do this second race. Fortunately nothing happened to Ai in his crash, so let’s see, only Gerry Salim is a little bit back on what he could be and we hope that for the next race he can step it up a little bit and try to stay together with his teammates.”

Now it’s next stop: Le Mans, as the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship heads for northern France to race alongside MotoGP™.