Pedro Acosta, labelled by many as the favourite to become the 2023 Moto2 World Champion, vindicated those predictions with a flawless ride in the Algarve.
The Red Bull KTM Team Ajo rider barely broke a sweat enroute to the first of what is likely to be many race wins this season.
After a solid performance on Saturday, Czech rider Filip Salac earned his first pole position in Moto2. He was joined on the front row by Aron Canet, starting 2nd, and the aforementioned Acosta, starting 3rd.
It was Canet who led the field down to turn one on the back of a great launch, with Salac hot on his heels. The polesitter briefly recovered the lead at the start of lap two, before he was shuffled backwards by Canet and Acosta.
There were frantic scenes behind the leaders too, as Bo Bendsneyder was taken out by Alonso Lopez. The Spaniard was given a long lap penalty for his troubles. Moments later Acosta assumed the lead of the race – He would now hold it until the chequered flag was waved.
After joining the newly formed Fantic Racing over the winter, Celestino Vietti made some early progress before serving his double long lap penalty which was carried over from last season’s final race in Valencia.
With the lead pair pulling away from the rest of the field, Marc VDS rider Tony Arbolino muscled his way into third. He then set about the impossible task of reeling in both Acosta and Canet.
After a disappointing qualifying session, Britain’s Jake Dixon had made steady progress through the field. At the halfway stage he was enjoying a good battle with Moto2 rookie, Darryn Binder. The pair exchanged positions before leapfrogging Jeremy Alcoba. Moments later, a mistake from Binder caused him to slide off the asphalt. The South African was able to re-join the race.
Despite Canet’s best efforts, he wasn’t able to challenge Acosta and by the end of the race, the gap between the two was well over a second. The former Moto3 champion looked unstoppable, kickstarting his campaign in style with a flawless ride.
Canet, still in search of his first Moto2 win, finished 2nd for the tenth time in the intermediate class. It was an impressive performance from Arbolino who brought his Kalex home in 3rd.
The British riders had a good day. Dixon managed to claim 6th after making good progress from the fourth row on the grid. Sam Lowes finished just behind him in 7th. Rory Skinner built on his wildcard appearances last season. The Scotsman, now a fulltime rider in the class, finished in 22nd.
After his lap 15 fall, Binder recovered to finish 16th, just missing out on the points in his first Moto2 start. Moto3 graduates Sergio Garcia and Dennis Foggia looked impressive, finishing 15th and 18th respectively.
Feature Image: MotoGP