The intermediate class prepare for touchdown at Pertamina Mandalika Circuit.
There were headlines aplenty in the Qatar GP, but one was most definitely the demolition job Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) put together for his maiden Moto2™ win. The Italian was untouchable and as the intermediate class arrive at a whole new track, it begs the question: will he do it again?
His six second gap over the line, as well as the fact that he started from pole and seemed to not expect either, made it seem all the more effortless, and that could be a serious warning sign for the field. Effortless pace brings points. The field, however, is deep, and taking on a whole new track will be an interesting watch as we look for signs of the title fight we’re to enjoy in 2022.
Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) was another standout lone ranger in Qatar, taking his first Moto2™ podium on a Kalex and likewise looking pretty sharp. He’s still sporting the bow tie he says he’ll take off once he has his maiden intermediate class win, so could Mandalika be the place? A podium on first asking on his new machine is a good sign, and the Spaniard is evidently settled in.
Behind Vietti and Canet, however, there was an almighty battle to complete the podium. Eventually it was Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) who took it, after a last gasp lunge from Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) on Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) saw both head wide but, somehow, stay on. Tony Arbolino, new in at Elf Marc VDS Racing Team, was just about in that battle too and profited to take fifth, taking a step forward so far as he and Ogura both become sophomores in the class. It would take some bravery to bet against the quartet featuring very near the front come lights out in Lombok…
Speaking of which, Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) will be looking for a lot more, as will Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team). Both had more form in testing and then suffered early skirmishes in the Qatar GP, and they’ll want to avoid any dramas and get back at that sharp end from the off in Indonesia. That said, Acosta was nevertheless still the top rookie in what would have been an impressive debut had he not already been breaking lap records at Portimão and been, well, Pedro Acosta. The field can likely expect the number 51 to reset, reload and gun for a lot more glory this time around – and at a track where no one has experience on a Moto2™ machine. Will that catapult some more debutants into the limelight?
We’ll find out soon enough as the lights go out for Moto2™ on Sunday at 13:20 (GMT+8). Can Vietti keep the early Championship lead?
Moto2™ CHAMPIONSHIP: TOP 5
1 Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) – Kalex – 25
2 Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) – Kalex – 20
3 Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) – Kalex – 16
4 Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – Kalex – 13
5 Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) – Kalex – 11
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