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.

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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: Ogura Takes First Moto2 Pole in Jerez

Ai Ogura will start tomorrow’s race in Jerez from pole position – the first of his Moto2 career. Joining him on the front row will be the ELF Marc VDS paining of Tony Arbolino, in second, and Sam Lowes, in third.

Ai Ogura has claimed his first Moto2 pole position ahead of tomorrow’s race at Circuito de Jerez. He set a time of 1:41.289 with ample time to spare in Q2. In fact, the end of the session was quite anticlimactic as tire performance hampered the top ten from improving on their lap time.

Joining Ogura on the front row will be both ELF Marc VDS riders. Tony Arbolino bested his team mate by just 0.032s, leaving Sam Lowes in third.

Aron Canet, who despite undergoing surgery on Monday as a result of a crash last time out in Portugal, was able to secure fourth for tomorrow’s race start.

Despite leading every session of the weekend so far, Jake Dixon was unable to find his rhythm in qualifying and was forced to settle for 11th ahead of tomorrow’s race.

Qualifying 1:

The first half of qualifying was a relatively uneventful session with Somkiat Chantra taking the lead early on in the session and remaining mostly unbeatable. His third flying lap of the session was an unbeatable 1:41.965 – the fastest lap of the weekend so far and simply unbeatable in Q1.

Despite laying down such a phenomenal time, Chantra was still pushing but was unable to beat his own time.

The session ended with Jorge Navarro in second, Albert Arenas in third and Bo Bendsneyder in fourth – all riders progressed in to Q2.

Behind them was Marcos Ramirez, Manueal Gonzalez and Alessandro Zaccone in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Rounding out the top ten was Filip Salac, Jeremy Alcoba and Zonta Van Den Goorbergh.

Qualifying 2:

As the pit lane lights went green, all riders were quick to head out on track. Sam Lowes was at the back of this pack, clearly eager to be the last rider on the grid to set a flying lap.

With 10 minutes left in the session, Navarro’s bike wobbled under him and he ended up in the kitty litter at Turn 1. He was almost able to save it, temporarily pushing himself back up with his knee, but as his elbow hit the floor the bike slipped from under him.

Shortly after, and having luckily missed the yellow flags, Lowes hit the top of the timing sheets with a 1:41.696. It didn’t take long for him to find his rhythm and hit the pace. It was in the following flying lap that most other riders found their pace. Canet stole provisional pole from Lowes, before quickly being bested by Arbolino as he set the fastest lap of the weekend – a 1:41.299.

During this battle for pole, Jake Dixon was stuck down in a disappointing ninth, seemingly unable to find his rhythm as he kept bailing out of his flying laps. This lack of pace was surprising after Dixon lead all previous sessions across the weekend.

With four minutes left on the clock, Ogura leapt up to provisional pole with a stunning lap of 1:41.289. Just behin him was Arbolino in second, Lowes in third and Canet in fourth.

As the session drew to a close, everyone’s tires seemed to loose performance and no one was able to challenge those top four runners. In fact, none of the top ten riders were able to improve on their lap times as the checkered flag fell.

So the session ended with Ogura claiming his mainden Moto2 pole, just 0.010s ahead of Arbolino in second and Lowes in third. The second row will be filled by Canet, who has made a miraculous recovery after his survey on Monday, Fermin Aldeguer and Celestino Vietti. The top ten was completed by Chantra, Pedro Acosta, Dixon and Arenas.

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Moto2: Arbolino Takes Maiden Win at COTA

Tony Arbolino secures his first win in Moto2 as both Celestino Vietti and Aron Canet crash out of the lead. Ai Ogura takes second ahead of Jake Dixon who takes his maiden Moto2 podium.

Tony Arbolino laid down a cool, calm and collected performance to take his maiden win in Moto2, despite tricky weather conditions. He found himself in the lead of the race after two front runners, Celestino Vietti and Aron Canet, crash out in the early stages of the race, potentially caused by those windy conditions.

Ai Ogura came home in second, having made huge strides from his starting position of 11th. This is his second podium in as many races – the first time he has achieved this in Moto2. He was joined on the podium by British rider, Jake Dixon, who enjoyed his first podium in Grand Prix racing.

Pole sitter and home hero, Cameron Beaubier had a difficult day – he was shuffled back in the early stages of the race and, despite making up ground, crashed out in the dying moments of the race.

As it happened

As the lights went out, Beaubier had an initial good start but was quickly shuffled back to fourth. Vietti flew off to take first, just ahead of Canet in second and Arbolino in third. Dixon slipped down to seventh whilst Sam Lowes jumped up to eighth.

The early stages of the race were filled with drama as the riders got to grips with those challenging conditions. Six riders all ended up in the kitty litter at the end of the first lap. As the grid came to turn 12 on the first lap, Somkiat Chantra hit the rear wheel of Sam Lowes’ bike as he mistimed his breaking. This then created a domino effect as Zonta van der Goorbergh hit Gabriel Rodrigo and the pair collected Fermin Aldeguer. Augusto Fernandez was lucky to not fall along with this group, however he was shuffled down to 15th as a result of the drama.

Rookie Pedro Acosta then crashed out from fifth in a separate incidence on lap four – he hit the ground at turn three before sliding dangerously across the track. Whilst all riders walked away unscathed, Rodrigo and van der Goorbergh were taken to the medical centre for a precautionary check-up.

On lap three, Canet found a way around the outside of Vietti at turn six, before firmly shutting the door at turn seven. With Canet now in the lead, he was able to pull out a 0.4s gap in the space of one lap.

On lap five, Vietti then crashed out from second place as the bike fell from under him at turn six. This promoted Arbolino up to second and Dixon up to third. Ogura was in fourth with Marcel Schrotter in an impressive fifth, despite starting down in 13th.

At this point in the race, Dixon was lining up for a move on Arbolino. This battle gave Canet the opportunity to put 1.5s of free air between himself and the rest of the grid.

However, everything went south for Canet shortly after as the front tire folds underneath him at turn seven on lap eight. He was almost able to save it but sadly ended up in the kitty litter. This promotes Arbolino to first, Dixon to second and Ogura to third.

Despite an initial challenge from Dixon, Arbolino was able to pull out a comfortable lead which he held for the remainder of the race. As the checkered flag fell, he had a 4s lead over his nearest competitors.

On lap 12, Dixon lost out on second place to Ogura after going wide – it is suspected that he faced a false neutral as Ogura came at him from very far behind.

A few laps later, just behind Dixon, Schrotter goes wide which allowed Beaubier past and into fourth. However, he wouldn’t be able to hold on to this position as the checkered flag fell.

Further retirements came from Simone Corsi who crashed on lap two, Alessandro Zaccone who retired on lap three and Niccolo Antonelli who retired on lap 14.

Championship Standings

Despite a tricky weekend, Vietti remains at the top of the championship standings with 70 points, with Canet in second and Chantra in third. Today’s podium finisher, Ogura, is fourth in the title fight with Lowes and Arbolino close behind.

However, if Canet had been able to hang on to the lead of the race, he would have left America as the championship leader. It will certainly be a weekend of “what if’s” for the Spanish rider.

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.

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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: Reactions to the Qatar GP

The first race of the 2022 season was entirely dominated by Celestino Vietti on the VR46 Racing machine, there have been plenty of talking points. Below are a few key thoughts from the riders.

The start of a new season is always rife with speculation, anticipation and excitement. Thankfully, the first race lived up to that with some dominant performances from those on the podium and mixed fortunes for others further back in down the grid.

You can read our full race report here. Below are some key thoughts from the riders as they reflect on the weekend’s actions. The grid will be back in action on the 18th to the 20th of March in Indonesia.

P1 = Celestino Vietti, Mooney VR46 Racing Team

Vietti cruised to a maiden Moto2 win, having secured pole the previous day. He led every lap and came home more than six seconds ahead of his competitors.

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“It was very unexpected because [during qualifying] we were fast, but we didn’t have this race pace. We didn’t plan on doing a race like this, but during [Sunday] morning we made some adjustments to better manage the tire and assure a better consistency. The bike worked well and the team did a good job, so this result is for them.

We have to remain calm and continue to work in this way. It is a good way to start the year, but we know that we have very good rivals and it will certainly be a difficult year. We’re going to have to fight hard, so we have to stay focused and work well.”


P3 = Sam Lowes, Elf Marc VDS Racing Team

Lowes was plagued with tendonitis during pre-season testing, which saw him missing out on a lot of track time. However, he enjoyed a race-long battle with Ogura, Fernandez and teammate Arbolino on his way to a podium finish. After winning both races in Qatar in 2021, he will have been keen to start 2022 in an equally positive way.

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“It’s been a difficult couple of weeks. But we had a good qualifying [on Saturday] and a podium [on Sunday]! The race was difficult. There were a couple of guys that were stronger than me, but it was a nice battle even though I couldn’t ride how I wanted to ride. So, to get some points on the board is good and to get the podium at the end is fantastic.”

 


P4 = Augusto Fernandez, Red Bull KTM Ajo

Fernandez spent much of his race, like Lowes, battling for the final podium place, which he was on track to secure before Ogura knocked in him a few laps from the end. He will have, undoubtedly, been disappointed to miss out on his first podium with the KTM team.

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“We end the weekend with a bittersweet taste in our mouths. However, we must be happy to have finished, since, after the setback on the last lap, it could have been worse. Besides this, I’m satisfied with how I felt on the bike. During the weekend we showed that we had the pace to be up at the front and we gave our all to win the battle in the chasing group. Finally, the podium got away from us due to that incident, but we were lucky enough to be able to cross the finish line.”


P11 = Jake Dixon, GASGAS Aspar Team

Dixon had a fairly solid day on Saturday, qualifying in seventh, but an issue on the first corner of the first lap sent him tumbling down the order. This forced him to spend much of the race recovering and trying to salvage as many points as possible.

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“Turn 1 and 2 was a disaster! Being that far back – outside the top twenty – on the first lap meant it was so hard to try and come back. I had to pass 10 or 11 riders and it took a long time. I think I lost ten seconds and if you take that away from the final race time then we would have been battling for the podium. So, we had the pace but the first lap held me back. It’s a long season and this is just the start.”

 


P12 = Pedro Acosta, Red Bull KTM Ajo

After laying down the gauntlet in pre-season testing, Acosta crashed out of his first Moto2 qualifying and started the race in tenth. He then faced a similar issue to Dixon after a first corner incident sent him backwards early in the race. Many will have been expecting to see more from the young prodigy during his first Moto2 outing.

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“Today we accumulated kilometres and very important experience. The important thing is that we had a very consistent race and that our pace was enough to be fighting with the riders in front. The start of the contest didn’t go as expected, but this can happen in your first Grand Prix in a class.”

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

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