Augusto Fernandez piled on the pressure up front and it paid off as he returned to the top spot for the first time since 2019 after Pedro Acosta slid out of contention ahead of him in the Moto2 French Grand Prix, round seven of the championship.

Pedro Acosta lead the early laps at Le Mans after he secured pole but it was to be his Red Bull KTM Ajo team-mate who would take the spoils - keeping close forced Acosta to ride hard and on lap eleven his front tyre folded as he rode downhill in La Chapelle.

The pair had pulled clear leaving Fernandez to inherit a lead of over six seconds. This increased as the Spaniard rode consistently up front while the battle for second was fierce, until the #37 chose to roll off a little in the closing stages for his first win since Misano 2019, finishing a final 3.746s ahead.

After Romano Fenati’s replacement Alonso Lopez and Albert Arenas exited when the Aspar man saw a gap up the inside and Lopez used his Boscoscuro to shut the door resulting in the pair ending their day in the gravel, the fight for second became a three way battle between Aron Canet, Somkiat Chantra and Cameron Beaubier.

All three impressed. Aron Canet who had his hand injury plated before the Jerez race and currently strapped up was still visibly in pain post-race having repeatedly swapped position with his race rivals. He had needed to work hard to get to the front from sixth and picked up positions quickly at the start of the race.

Passed by Chantra and sat up on the way, allowing Cameron Beaubier through underneath on lap fifteen the Flexbox HP40 rider had all the work to do again, never giving up and piling on the pressure the Thai rider ran wide at turn eight with eight laps remaining allowing him to find a way back in front and fight the pain barrier to hold second.

A move from the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia rider into the final corner saw him secure third as the battle for the final podium spot went all the way to the line.

Though disappointed not to make a first rostrum appearance, fourth still heralds Beaubier’s best result to date after he and his American Racing mechanics made huge gains overnight and then in the race slicing thorugh from sixteenth on the grid to end the first lap in ninth, continuing his move forward. He was greeted back in the garage by his elated team lead by a smiling John Hopkins.

Ai Ougra was a distant fourth on the second Idemitsu bike but managed to break free of the attention he was getting for the place form Marcel Schrotter.

The resurgent German, who struggled with a hand injury at the beginning of the season, looked back to his best and although he faded in the final laps for Liqui Moly Intact GP, he was able to respond enough when Joe Roberts had him in his sights.

His race long duel with Jorge Navarro was interrupted by Celestino Vietti, who was in damage limitation mode and the fastest man on track over the final laps.

Vietti recovers valuable points

The Mooney VR46 rider had a near perfect start to his 2022 with a win and two second places but a fall in Austin indicated his struggles on the bike beginning.

Off the pace again in Portimao, the red flag took out enough frontrunners to give the Itaian a chance, resiliently clawing back second. Jerez saw another fight back for sixth.
The #13 was again off the pace in France, qualifying down in 19th after not moving up from Q1 but lining up 18th after Sam Lowes was withdrawn.

Vietti had progressed to eleventh with fifteen laps remaining but dropped to 19th after running wide and having to stay upright in the gravel in order to rejoin.

Shaken, the championship leader regained his composure and again set about picking off his rivals to move into eighth, passing the Flexbox bike with Navarro on board right at the end of the race.

He remains top in the title hunt, with a now sixteen point gap to Ogura in second on 92 points. Aron Canet moves into third after the French Grand prix on 89 points with Tony Arbolino not scoring.

Stefano Manzi looked back at home in Moto2 as he completed the top ten on the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp bike that usually has Keminth Kubo on board as he recovers from injury.

His team-mate for the weekend Manuel Gonzalez was eleventh and top rookie with Lorenzo Dalla Porta twelfth on the second Italtrans entry.

Jeremy Alcoba fought his way into the points to finish thiteenth for Liqui Moly Intact GP ahead of SAG team’s Bo Bendsneyder who had to fight back for fifteenth after a long lap penalty in the race.

Filip Salac collected the final point on offer for Gresini in 15th.

A bad day for the British riders

Sam Lowes was reviewed overnight and declared fit to rider but after warm-up returned himself to Clinica Mobile for a reassessment after not feeling right, struggling to judge where other riders were on track and a slight double vision. That lead to his withdrawal from the race.

Jake Dixon had looked to have put his bad run of form behind him with a superb second in qualifying. The Aspar rider hit the gravel on lap four at turn 13 and rejoined to finish last - his fourth consecutive finish out of the points.

With Lowes already out all the Marc VDS hopes were pinned on his team-mate Tony Arbolino who fell with just one lap completed.

He was not the first to exit - Niccolo Antonelli was the first to exit as he struggles with arm issues, with an operation for arm pump between races.

Gabriel Rodrigo, Marcos Ramirez, Fermin Aldeguer and Barry Baltus also failed to finish.

Moto2 returns in two weeks over the weekend of the 27th -29th May in Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix.