Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is the 2023 Moto2™ World Champion thanks to a P2 finish at the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia.
The Spaniard becomes the youngest Moto2™ title winner – taking that accolade off Marc Marquez – as Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) strode to a commanding third win of the campaign. Marcos Ramirez (OnlyFans American Racing) kept his composure to secure a hard-earned debut Moto2™ rostrum in P3.
There was drama from the off as polesitter Aldeguer and Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team) made contact on the exit of Turn 1 which saw the latter crash out. Thankfully everyone managed to avoid the Spaniard but one rider who had to take evading action was Arbolino. The Italian lost ground and was down to P7, with Acosta capitalising on Gonzalez’s misfortunes to climb up to P2.
On Lap 2, desperate to pick off the riders ahead of him, Arbolino’s slim title hopes then all but vanished. The #14 made small contact with Ai Ogura’s (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) rear wheel at Turn 9, then made more contact with Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40), as Arbolino ran onto the grass. That dropped him outside the top 20.
Back at the front, Aldeguer was operating on another level. By Lap 4, the Spaniard was over two seconds clear of Acosta, who in turn was over a second up the road from third place Ramirez. Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) was P4 and had Ogura and Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) for company, with Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) just slightly adrift of the fight for P4.
Aldeguer’s lead kept growing and with seven laps left, six seconds split him and Acosta. Ramirez was holding Lopez, Ogura and Dixon a second behind him, with Ogura beginning to climb all over the back of Lopez’s rear wheel. With six to go, Ogura was through and then set about chasing Ramirez for the final spot on the podium.
With three to go, Ramirez was coming under increasing pressure. Ogura was taking two or three tenths a second a lap out of the Spaniard’s advantage but up the road, there were no issues whatsoever for Aldeguer and the Champion elect Acosta.
Aldeguer took the chequered flag a sensational 7.1s clear of anyone to claim a dominant victory, but it was all eyes on the rider in P2 as Acosta crossed the line to become the 2023 Moto2™ World Champion and a two-time Grand Prix Champion after his 2021 Moto3™ success. Take a bow Pedro, what a season!
Just behind, Ramirez did manage to fend off Ogura to claim a first Moto2™ podium, with the latter coming from P13 on the grid to challenge for a podium, as Dixon rounded out the top five. Chantra and Lowes take home P6 and P7, with Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and the recovering Arbolino rounding out the top 10. A disappointing day for the #14 sees his title hopes disappear for 2023, but he’ll be back stronger in 2024
Barry Baltus (Fieten Olie Racing GP), Jeremy Alcoba (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™), Alex Escrig (Forward Team), Filip Salac (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™) and Dennis Foggia (Italtrans Racing Team) were the final points scorers in Malaysia. With the title wrapped up, Acosta will head to Qatar with only one thing in mind: winning. So will the likes of Aldeguer as we get set for what could be a spell-binding end to the 2023 Moto2™ World Championship!
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