Christina Bulpett |
Celestino Vietti consolidated his Moto2 Championship lead with his second victory of 2022 at Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.
Idemitsu Honda Team Asia celebrated debut double podium success as Somkiat Chantra backed up his maiden win last time out with a second place finish ahead of hard-fighting teammate Ai Ogura. While Jake Dixon finished the race as it started, in fifth.
Weekend sensation Fermin Aldeguer commanded the grid on the MB Conveyors Speed Up ahead of 23 laps around the 4.8km Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit. KTM’s Augusto Fernandez and the man who replaced him at Marc VDS, Tony Arbolino completed the front row ahead of the Aspar duo of Albert Arenas and Dixon and championship leader Vietti. Sam Lowes faced a difficult challenge from the middle of row four while home hero Gabriel Rodrigo started from 20th on the Pertamina SAG.
An action-packed start saw the 16-year-old claim the holeshot as Arbolino launched to second, Dixon sliding into third with Fernandez crashing out at the opening corner after collecting the rear wheel of Aron Canet. The KTM’s crash initially taking Manuel Gonzales with him, with the Yamaha Master Camp rider able to restart.
Dixon ran wide moments later as the Brit dropped to seventh. Niccolo Antonelli and Sean Dylan Kelly crashing out from the back of the pack at turn five.
Aldeguer held a half second gap as the second lap played out, Vietti up to second on the Mooney VR46 with Arbolino fighting off Chantra for the final podium position. Zonta van der Googbergh the next to retire in the gravel at turn two.
The Idemitsu Honda was up to third by lap three, Aron Canet arriving to fourth, from 12th, with the fastest lap of the race as Vietti took charge out front. Arbolino sat fifth from Ai Ogura, Dixon, Bo Bendsneyder and Arenas with Cameron Beaubier demoting Lowes out of the top ten. The Brit looked to be suffering as Pedro Acosta was the next to advance, on the remaining Red Bull KTM Ajo. Italtrans’ Joe Roberts less than one second behind.
Ogura and Arbolino continued to battle for fifth as lap seven played out with the pair repeatedly swapping positions and giving Canet space out front. Disaster striking the pole sitter as Aldeguer crashed out at turn 13. Vietti having cut the front of his Speed Up as he recovered from running offline and spinning the teenager out of the race in dramatic style.
The halfway stage found Vietti maintaining his lead with Chantra hot on his wheels, the Thai rider maintaining his momentum after an impressive Mandalika victory. Canet and Ogura continuing to battle for the final podium place with Arbolino in check for fifth.
Chantra took the lead with 12 laps to go, as Vietti went wide once again at turn 13. His Honda teammate making his own advance to third moments later with double celebrations the potential prize.
Vietti regrouped with a mirror image move next time around and Ogura homed in on his teammate. Canet and Arbolino maintaining the top five with Dixon two-seconds back in sixth.
The Flexbox rider was the man on the move at 13 as Canet pushed Ogura wide, Beaubier gaining, then losing the final top ten position as Jorge Navarro denied him on the second Pons machine.
Eight laps to go and the pace began to heat up. Dixon looking to bridge the gap to the Marc VDS in front, with his teammate Arenas doing likewise to Acosta back in ninth. The Aspar men both halving their respective deficits next time around.
Ogura was back in podium contention two laps later as Acosta put Bendsneyder in between himself and Arenas on his way to seventh. The Aspar following suit shortly after with Dixon now just half a second off Arbolino further up.
Dixon’s comeback proved successful with three laps to go as the Brit capitalised for fifth. Rodrigo crashing out of his home race with a massive highside at turn nine. Navarro and Lorenzo Dalla Porta suffering similar fates at turns two and five respectively next time around.
Canet was on the wheels of Ogura as the penultimate lap unfolded, the pair inseparable as they continued to battle with the Italian struggling to find a way through on the Honda. The move came twice as the final lap wound down, but a late recovery saw Ogura clinch the final podium position for double Honda delight as Vietti met the chequered flag with a second and half in his pocket.
Canet was forced to settle for fourth from Dixon and Arbolino. Acosta leading Arenas, Bendsneyder and Lowes in the top ten with Beaubier, Marcel Schrotter, Roberts, a determined Gonzales and Marcos Ramirez claiming the final points.
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