Moto2: Maiden Pole for Acosta at Le Mans

Having previously never started a Moto2 race from the front row, rookie Pedro Acosta will have the honours of leading the field off the line for tomorrow’s race as he clinched his maiden pole. He will be joined on the front row by Jake Dion and Augusto Fernandez, as Sam Lowes and Ai Ogura both crash out.

Before the 2022 Moto2 season had begun, many had their sights set on rookie rider Pedro Acosta and predicted he would be a title contender. However as the season kicked off Acosta was nowhere to be seen, unable to qualify higher than 10th or finish a race higher than seventh.

With the sun shining down on the Le Mans circuit, it seemed that today would be Acosta’s day. He hit the top of the timing sheets with over three minutes remaining in Q2, with a time of 1:35.803 that no one was able to challenge.

Joining him on the front row will be Jake Dixon, who was able to put together a brilliant lap despite seeming to struggle to find his flow all weekend, and Augusto Fernandez.

Lining up in sixth for tomorrow’s race will be new boy, Alonso Lopez, who is replacing Romano Fenati. On his first step up from Moto3, he laid down an impressive performance to secure a second row start for tomorrow.

It was a much trickier day for Sam Lowes and the two Honda Team Asia riders, Ai Ogura and Somkiat Chantra, as all three riders crashed during Q2. However, thanks to some early banker laps, they will start tomorrow’s race from fourth, eighth and 11th respectively.

Our championship leader, Celestino Vietti, has struggled for pace all weekend, forcing him to join the Q1 group. These woes continued throughout the session as he failed to sit within the top three even once in the session. He was unable to progress to Q2 and will start tomorrow’s race from the lowly 19th spot on the grid.

Image Credit: MotoGP
QUALIFYING 1

As everyone completed their first flying laps of the session, it was Manuel Gonzalez who jumped to the top of the timing sheets first. He set an initial benchmark of 1:36.645. Behind him was Lorenzo Dalla Porta in second, Jorge Navarro third and Vietti in fourth – all had provisionally booked a place in to Q2.

With eight minutes left on the clock, Alessandro Zaccone crashed at Turn 8, bringing out yellow flags in Sector 3. Less than a minute later, Sean Dylan Kelly crashed at Turn 14 to bring out yet more yellow flags, this time in at Sector 4. The biggest looser from they yellow flags seemed to be Joe Roberts who was just appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

With just less than five minutes of the session remaining, Niccolo Antonelli became the next victim of the tricky Le Mans circuit, as he crashed at Turn 8. Lucky he was unscathed as he returned to action following surgery for arm pump earlier in the week.

At this point in the session, Dalla Porta was at the top of the timing sheet with Fermin Aldeguer, Bo Bendsneyder and Navarro just behind him. There was just 0.04s covering there top four riders and everything was still to play form.

Sitting just outside the top four was Vietti who returned to tack for some final flying laps with four minutes left in the session. He had just enough time to complete three flying laps and, whilst each was an improvement on the last, he still wasn’t able to break in to that elusive leading group. Whilst his lap times were fastest that most in sectors one and two, he was loosing out considerably in sectors three and four.

The checkered flag fell and with no one able to improve on their lap times or challenge the top four, it was Dalla Porta, Aldeguer, Bendsneyder and Navarro who progressed to Q2.

QUALIFYING 2

The first flying lap of Q2 was set by Lowes on the Elf Marc VDS machine. He then improved on his early banker lap with a 1:36.071. In hindsight, this lap would prove vital as with nine minutes left on the clock, he suffered a horrible highside at Turn 8. The rear of the bike stepped out as he exited the corner, causing a highside which threw him down on to his shoulder before the bike hit him in the back.

Just moments before this incident, Ogura also crashed at Turn 8 – in an uncharacteristic move, the bike slid from underneath him as he touched the throttle to exit the corner. This combination of incidents resulted in yellow flags waving across both Sector 2 and 3.

As the session continued, and with just seven minute remaining, a number of riders seemed to pick up the pace – this included Acosta and Dixon who were setting flying sector times. As Acosta jumped up to third, the provisional grid was lead by Lowes, Albert Arenas and Acosta. Lopez, on his first Moto2 outing, was in provisional fourth ahead of Ogura in fifth.

With three minutes to go, Fernandez leapt to the top of the timings, only to have provisional pole snatches away moment later, as Acosta crossed the line. The next bike across the line was Dixon, who split the leading pair to take second. Lowes had now been shuffled off the front row and had no way to fight back as he sat in the garage.

As the checkered flag fell, no one looked to be able to improve on their times or challenge the leading pair. The final nail in the coffin came when Chantra suffered a fast front end crash at Turn 10 bringing out the yellow flag at sectors 3 and 4 and halting anyone from challenging Acosta.

Further down the grid, Aron Canet took seventh after a quiet and difficult weekend. Bo Bendsneyder was the best Q1 progressor in ninth, just ahead of Tony Arbolino in tenth.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Dixon takes magnificent maiden pole at the Indonesian GP

Jake Dixon and his Inde GASGAS Aspar bike are on pole for tomorrow’s race, joined on the front row by Augusto Fernandez on the Red Bull KTM Ajo bike. and Sam Lowes on the Elf Marc VDS machine.

MotoGP is back in Indonesia for the first time in over two decades and it is Jake Dixon who will start the Moto2 race from pole. Dixon and fellow Brit Sam Lowes, who continued to swap their positions at the top of the timing sheets, led much of the qualifying session. However, it was Dixon who eventually came out on top. His maiden pole position, secured with a time of 1m 35.799s, comes in his fifth Moto2 season.

In second place was Augusto Fernandez on the Red Bull KTM Ajo machine. He seemed to really find his feet towards the later stages for qualifying and ended up just 0.102s behind the polesitter.

After his battle with Dixon, Lowes eventually took the third fastest time of the day, dropping back behind his old teammate, Fernandez. Despite still being plagues with tendonitis, Lowes was on good form and will be looking to build on the podium he secured in the first race of the season.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Despite being first out on track and setting the early benchmark, Somkiat Chantra was eventually shuffled back to fourth. He is back in action this weekend, returning from a broken bone he sustained in Qatar qualifying last time out.

Bo Bendsneyder and Albert Arenas took fifth and sixth respectively, despite the latter rider suffering a crash at turn two.

He wasn’t the only rider to fall during Q2. Cameron Beaubier and Jorge Navarro both had separate incidents at turn 2 on their way to securing 11th and 17th respectively.

Our race one winner, Celestino Vietti will undoubtedly be disappointed to only secure seventh ahead of tomorrow’s race. Alongside him will be Tony Arbolino, Simone Corsi and Pedro Acosta who round out the top ten. Despite being the highest ranking rookie during qualifying, Acosta has already been handed a long lap penalty for the race after a yellow flag violation during FP2.

Moto2’s race will commence at 1.20pm (GMT+8) and you can stay up to date with all the action here at Crew On Two.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Vietti wins first race of 2022 in Qatar

Celestino Vietti led every lap on his way to winning the Qatar GP. He was joined on the podium by Aron Canet in second and Sam Lowes, who was able to snatch third place after drama on the last lap.

The first race of the season gave Celestino Vietti his first Moto2 win – and it was a very comfortable and enjoyable win for him too! After starting on pole, Vietti flew off the line, quickly put clean air between him and the rest of the field, and then went on to lead every lap.

Vietti took the chequered flag more than 6 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Aron Canet. The Flexbox HP40 rider also enjoyed a strong start to the race – he climbed from ninth to second in only three laps. Once finding himself in second place, he faced no real challenge from the rest of the grid and took a comfortable podium finish.

Ai Ogura and Augusto Fernandez also enjoyed a positive start to their races. They each gained a place and got themselves up to fourth and fifth respectively.

Ogura leads the battle; Image Credit: MotoGP

On the first lap, Jake Dixon and Pedro Acosta both went too hot into the first corner, forcing them to sit up on the bike and go wide. This caused Dixon to fall back from seventh to 16th and Acosta to fall back from tenth to 21st. Having already crash the previous day in qualifying, this added to Acosta’s weekend woes.

Sam Lowes also faced a challenging start, dropping back from second to eighth. He quickly overtook Joe Roberts for seventh and was then gifted sixth place when Filip Salac crashed on lap three.

Having enjoyed a hugely impressive qualifying performance and starting the race as the top rookie in fourth, Salac was clearly disappointed to end have his race prematurely. He had a big highside at turn five which left him in the gravel looking a little shaken. Thankfully, he walked away unscathed but that corner has taken a number of victims this weekend, including Somkiat Chantra who broke a bone during a qualifying crash there.

Salac in the gravel; Image Credit: Gresini Racing

After this, Lowes now found himself behind his Elf Marc VDS teammate Tony Arbolino as well as Fernandez and Ogura – this quartet spent most of the remaining 18 laps jostling for the final podium position. This fighting helped Vietti and Canet to break away from the pack with such ease.

Two mistakes in the middle of the race saw Arbolino drop outside of the third place battle. Lowes quickly took Fernandez and Ogura within one lap of each other, with Ogura swiftly taking back third place honours. These battles allowed Arbolino to reduce the gap and rejoin the fight.

The battle for third; Image Credit: MotoGP

With only two laps to go, Fernandez made a very late move for fourth, throwing his bike up the inside of Lowes. He was then chasing down Ogura and made yet another late lunge. However, as Ogura fought back, he hit Fernandez, sliding in to him and sending himself wide.

Lowes capitalised on this drama to easily snatch third place from the pair of them. Fernandez managed to keep hold of fourth, narrowly missing out on his first podium with the KTM team. Arbolino crossed the line in fifth as Ogura dropped back to sixth.

Eighth and ninth were taken by the American pairing of Roberts and Cameron Beaubier. Marcel Schrotter, who is still recovering from a broken hand that was inflicted during the pre-season test, rounded out the top ten. He took that position on the line, narrowly beating Dixon who managed to recover from his terrible start to finish in 11th.

Acosta on track; Image Credit: MotoGP

Acosta, who was also recovering from his terrible start, fought back to finish in 12th. The final points scoring positions were filled by Albert Arena in 13th, Jeremy Alcoba in 14th and Romano Fenati in 15th.

Joining Salac in the group of non-finishers were Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Barry Baltus who, before retiring, enjoyed a phenomenal save – he managed to stay on the bike as it slid from under him by pushing himself back up with his hand.

After such a dominant performance, all eyes are firmly on Vietti and the wider VR46 Racing Team, who also enjoyed success in Moto3 just hours earlier. After struggling with injury throughout the official test, Lowes will be pleased to be back on the podium. However, after showing such sensational pace in testing, it’s fair to say that many were expecting more from Acosta this weekend. He will surely be keen to fight back as the grid return to action on the 18th to the 20th of March in Indonesia.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

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