Crash ends maiden Moto2 win hopes for Dixon as Chantra makes GP history

Jake Dixon can't convert his maiden Moto2 pole into a first win after early crash at the Mandalika Circuit as Somkiat Chantra makes history for Thailand

Somkia Chantra, Jake Dixon

Jake Dixon’s hopes of turning a breakthrough first pole position into a long-awaited maiden victory in the Moto2 World Championship came to a sorry conclusion at the Mandalika Circuit when he crashed out early on.

But there was joy for Somkiat Chantra as he swept to a stunning maiden win to become the first rider hailing from Thailand - and south-east Asia - to taste success in the GP ranks.

Two riders with a fairly similar career trajectory in Moto2, both Dixon and Chantra debuted full-time in 2019 and have proceeded to cultivate a modest upward curve in the intermediate class over the ensuing three seasons.

However, both have taken a notable step forward coming into 2022 and demonstrated as much during qualifying in Indonesia as Dixon notched up his first pole position on the GASGAS Kalex, while Chantra landed a career-best fourth on the grid.

Come race day though, the stars would only align for Chantra, who surged into the lead after getting the hole-shot from the second row to establish an advantage he’d massage to victory by 3.2secs come the flag.

Chantra might have faced a bigger tussle for victory had Dixon not scuppered his chances with a fall at Turn 10 on lap six, moments after he’d relieving countryman Sam Lowes for second place.

“I thought I’d just bide my time, I passed Sam and then I’d see if I had the pace to catch Chantra, which I thought I could,” a crestfallen Dixon explained after the race. 

“Literally, I braked in the same place as the lap before, everything is the same on the data, I did everything identically to the lap before but for some reason I lost the front. 

“Ohh, I’m so annoyed right now, it’s the fifth time I have crashed in a front position and it’s… oh man, it’s annoying.

His exit removed the threat to victory for Chantra, who subsequently eased home ahead of the top three from the season-opening Qatar MotoGP in Celestino Vietti, Aron Canet and Sam Lowes. 

A first victory since 2017 for the ex-MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama-helmed Idemitsu Honda Team Asia, Chantra’s win is also a milestone moment for Thailand, a nation renowned for a feverish passion towards MotoGP.