Celestino Vietti forgot his title plans and took the race to Aron Canet on the final lap to win the Moto2 Catalan Grand Prix, round nine of the championship.

The Mooney VR46 rider brought one of the closest battles for victory in the intermediate class this season. 

Starting from pole the Italian had slipped back to fifth and had needed to fight back to get into the group chasing down then-leader Joe Roberts.

By the final laps it was a clear battle for first between Vietti and Canet, with Jake Dixon and Augusto Fernandez fighting behind for the final podium spot.

The Spaniard lead at home at the start of the final lap but was tight trying to keep the inside at turn ten, Vietti didn’t need a second invite and swooped inside, blocking his rival and preventing any hopes of a slipstream to lead over the line by just 0.081s.

Vietti collects his third win of the season -and is the only ride to win more than one race.

The result means a first win continues to elude Canet, though he collects valuable points in second, his fourth time in the position this season, though this time the Flexbox HP40 rider was free of the strapping he has had on his arm to aid him in the last few rounds.

The battle for third was just as fierce, with Fernandez snatching the position in the run to the flag to complete the all Kalex podium.

It had been Jake Dixon who had held the spot for much of the race, initially inheriting first when Roberts crashed out of a huge lead of over two seconds, though he soon had company from Canet and Vietti, in search of the win.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider had rehearsed his move on the penultimate lap, so after the dress rehersal the British rider must have been expecting the attack, but there was little he could do after Fernandez made his lunge up the inside stick to claim the final rostrum slot.

Marcel Schrotter was a solid and solo fifth for Liqui Moly IntactGP after doing the hard work to get ahead of  Sam Lowes and Albert Arenas earlier in the race.

Neither of those riders finished the race, with Arenas retiring on lap 19 and Lowes crashing out at the same time, sadly for the Elf MArc VDS rider it is his sixth successive out of the points finish.

That left Pedro Acosta to pick up the pieces. Already making moves to make up for his lacklustre twelfth place in qualifying the top rookie took advantage to take sixth on the second Red Bull KTM Ajo entry.

Early in the race Ai Ogura was riding high and battling title rival Vietti for fifth. As Vietti managed his tyres and went on to win, Ogura went the other way, fading back to seventh after being passed by Acosta for Idemitsu Honda team Asia.

Alonso Lopez continued to impress after joining the paddock late to replace Romano Fenati at Lightech Speed Up. He was the best of the non-Kalex riders on the Boscoscuro in eighth, equalling his best finish to date secured at the last round in Mugello.

Manuel Gonzalez was a distant ninth for Yamaha VR46 Master Camp, enjoying his own gap over Tony Arboilno, who raced his way up from 18th on the grid to complete the top ten.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta looked to be close to being back to his best form as he pressured the Italian all the way, finishing eleventh for Italtrans, his best result so far this season.

Somkiat Chantra was next to see the chequered flag in twelfth for Idemitsu Honda Team Asia, ahead of a close fight for 13th which went to Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) just ahead of Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40) in 14th.

The final point on offer went to Fermin Aldeguer for Lightech Speed Up.

 

Joe Roberts falls from the lead.

 

Joe Roberts had gotten a dream start and found himself able to pull away at the front, lapping quicker than everyone on track and untroubled as the rest of the pack seemed happy to run to their own agenda.

A half a second gap soon appeared. As Dixon and Canet began to fight for second the distance advantage the American held soon stretched out to a comfortable two seconds.

His rivals had begun to reel him in but it was not a factor in his fall. As the Italtrans rider arrived at turn five late he failed to make the apex and slid into the gravel on lap ten.

Roberts was not the only rider to fail to go the distance.

Alex Toledo, replacing Gabriel Rodrigo, who will now miss the rest of the season to recover from his injury issues, was the first to hit the gravel.

Filip Salac only lasted one lap longer, falling on lap three, with Cameron Beaubier out the lap after him. Alessandro Zaccone, Sam Lowes and Albert Arenas all also failed to finish.

Where does the result leave the title standings?

 

Saving his tyres and some close last lap moves brought Vietti another 25 points - moving him clear of Ai Ogura, who was tied for points with the #13 after Mugello. Now on a total of 133, Vietti is 16 points clear of the Japanese rider after he faded to seventh.

Second place sees Canet move closer on 109 points after 3 DNF’s this season as his consistency when he reaches the finish line pays off overall.