MotoGP Valencia: Acosta wins with Fernandez crowned Moto2 Champion
Christina Bulett |
Image: GeeBee Pictures
Red Bull KTM Ajo celebrated another dominant season with Pedro Acosta’s victory in Valencia over teammate and Moto2 Champion Augusto Fernandez.
The Spanish duo took all the accolades in the season finale, securing a tag team double, the title crown and Rookie of the Year celebrations. Tony Arbolino of Elf Marc VDS completes the podium in third position, the fifth grandstand in his second year in the intermediate class and fourth overall.
The first title decider of the day saw Fernandez line up third to fifth behind Ai Ogura as the pair were 9.5 points behind in the 2022 Moto2 standings. Beta Tools Speed Up’s Alonso Lopez led the grid of KTM rookie Pedro Acosta after the pair set nearly identical lap times in Saturday qualifying.
The lights went out and Arbolino immediately ran through Fernandez with title rival Ogura following on the Honda Idemitsu. Fermin Aldeguer made things more difficult for the KTM rider by finishing fifth as the first lap unfolded while Acosta took the overall lead.
Arbolino was in the lead with Ogura until second place at the start of the second lap, half a point now separating the championship as Fernandez rode in fifth. Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) got off to a good start, taking sixth place ahead of Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40). Lopez threatening from third place as he looked to advance on the Japanese rider after sending Acosta for the final podium spot.
Lopez crashed out at the end of lap five, with the Boscoscuro rider crashing into Turn 11 after running wide after suffering numerous moments in the race. Aspar’s Jake Dixon suffered from his own problems starting 20th in the standings before regrouping to 18th two laps later.
Beaubier finished fourth and immediately pulled a three-tenths gap over Fernandez before the American crashed out late on lap six – a disappointing end to his world championship career ahead of a return to MotoAmerica. Another drama finding Arbolino and Ogura almost reuniting as the round ended with Taiga Hada and Celestino Vietti the next to fall.
Acosta aided his teammate’s efforts by capturing second place Ogura on the line for lap eight before the Honda man fought back at turn two. Disaster hitting number 79 with a high-speed crash into turn eight the next time around with Fernandez confirmed as 2022 Moto2 Champion as he inherited third place in stride.
Dixon was in the points and up to tenth place by the end of lap ten. Yamaha VR46 Master Camp’s Manuel Gonzales was eight tenths ahead as the Briton continued to pick up the pace with the default just over a tenth the next time out.
Acosta took the lead with 14 laps to go as the podium trio were covered by half a second. Canet nearly three seconds behind Aldeguer and Albert Arenas focusing on the only remaining Speed Up. Idemitsu’s Somkiat Chantra had other ideas, however. Sending the Aspar for sixth at the halfway mark, Fernandez did the same on Arbolino up front as he joined his KTM teammate for a brace.
Honda’s woes increased on lap 15 as Chantra followed his teammate’s path with an identical crash at turn eight, with Niccolo Antonelli doing the same for the Mooney VR46 team two turns earlier.
Seven laps to go and the leading duo is divided by seven tenths of a second. Arbolino is still two seconds behind the Ajo riders with Canet closing in on the final podium position. Pasini was pushed out of action by Jeremy Alcoba and Canet crashed out five months later.
Late-race action found Dixon down to seventh place behind Gonzales and Arenas. Sam Lowes’ replacement Senna Agius is riding firmly in the points in ninth ahead of Marcel Schrotter in his Moto2 farewell race.
Two to go and KTM Ajo set themselves up for a double in racing and championship celebrations – for the second season in a row. Acosta is also looking to secure Rookie of the Year with his victory in Valencia in front of the home crowd.
The pair eventually met the flag a second behind but eight seconds behind Arbolino, with the Italian completing the podium for his fifth of the year.
Aldeguer crossed the line fourth from Arenas and Gonzales with Dixon completing a determined recovery in seventh. Alcoba, Agius and Schrotter complete the top ten ahead of Bo Bendsneyder, impressive joker Borja Gomez, Filip Salac and Lorenzo Dalla Porta, while Italtrans team-mate Joe Roberts picks up the final point of the season.