Portimao Moto2: Acosta keeps Canet in check to win season opener

Pedro Acosta was back to winning ways as he managed the race from the front for victory in the Portuguese Moto2 Grand Prix at Portimao.
Pedro Acosta
Pedro Acosta

Pedro Acosta made a return to the top spot of the podium, keeping Aron Canet in check to confidently lead the Intermediate class over the line and take victory in the Moto2 Portuguese Grand Prix.

Filip Salac and Celestino Vietti initially stayed with the lead pair, with Tony Arbolino giving chase later in the race, but there were only two riders ever in contention for the win.

Canet lead the early laps from after starting from second on the grid, but once the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider hit the front he looked to be managing the race. This proved true - every time Canet picked up the pace, the early season favourite responded.

The #37 only showed one moment of vulnerability where he had to control a wobble after running wide while enjoying one of his bigger margins back to Canet, going on to lead over the line by 1.358s for his third win at Portimao and fourth in Moto2.

Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) collected an incredible tenth second place as a win continues to elude the Spaniard.

Tony Arbolino started eighth for Elf Marc VDS and after working his way to behind the lead duo he gave everything to try and bridge the gap. Solo and with no-one to work off of, or with, the task proved impossible, but the Italian was clear and unchallenged for the final podium spot.

Polesitter Filip Salac couldn’t match the pace at the front after a handful of laps but still took a career best dry finish of fourth on his QJMotor Gresini.

Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha Vr46 Team) was fifth but had to work to keep two riders from catching him in the closing stages.


Brits bounce back


Both Jake Dixon (Inde GasGas Aspar) and Sam Lowes ( Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) had qualifying issues which put them on the back foot, Dixon particularly was unlucky not to be higher up the grid with his best lap cancelled after yellow flags for a crash.

The duo then both endured starts to forget before staging a comeback.

The #96 made his move through the pack first, rising to sixth by the end of the race from eleventh on the grid, while Lowes, who started ninth, seemed to have something suddenly click in place when he had Celestino Vietti arrive in front of him  rom the long lap loop, immediately gapping the Italian then going on his own run forward to finish seventh, the duo both just over nine seconds off the winner.

They passed Gresini’s Jeremy Alcoba, who placed ninth and Somkiat Chantra, the sole Idemitsu Honda Team Asia representative this weekend, completing the top ten.

Vietti had been at the front putting on moves which may have lead to a podium finish had he not had a double long lap penalty to serve for ignoring the black flag with orange disk at the final round of 2022.

His first run around the loop dropped the Fantic Racing rider from fourth to tenth, the second took him down to 14th before his comeback to eleventh.

Barry Baltus collected twelfth for Fieten Olie Racing.

Fermin Aldeguer was 13th after surviving early contact from his CAG Speed Up teammate Alonso Lopez. Lopez was also handed a long lap penalty for his contact on Bo Bendsneyder, which ended his race in the gravel, which he took before crashing out himself.

The final points places were taken by last seasons Portimao winner Joe Roberts (Italtrans) and the best of the Moto2 graduates, rookie Sergio Garcia (Pons Wegow Los40) , in 14th and 15th respectively. Dennis Foggia (Italtrans) was 18th.

Another class rookie, Darryn Binder was looking assured of a top ten finish before a late fall at turn four. The ex- MotoGP and Moto3 rider remounted for 16th.

Former BSB rider Rory Skinner finished his Moto2 debut in 22nd for American Racing.


Crashes and absentees


In the race both Zonta van den Goorbergh and David Sanchis also failed to go the distance.

Ai Ogura, the 2022 runner-up and Izan Guevara, Moto3 champion, were both absent for the first race of the season after picking up injuries. Neither are expected to feature at the next round with it being the following weekend.

The grid shrank further when Alex Escrig was withdrawn by his team, swiftly followed by Lukas Tulovic, who could not ride with the pain in his hand.

Kohta Nozane had a big crash on Saturday, which saw the Japanese rider take no further part in the race weekend.

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