Leading from start to finish, Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) converted pole position into a dominant victory at the Grand Prix of Qatar to kick start his season in perfect fashion. The Italian beat second place Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) by 6.154s on Sunday evening in the desert, the duo finishing comfortably up the road from third place Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), who profited from late drama between Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia).
Vietti got a clean getaway from pole position as we saw reigning Moto3™ World Champion Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) go into Turn 1 way too hot, as did Fermin Aldeguer (MB Conveyors Speed Up), with Acosta dropping to the back of the field. Canet made great gains in the opening three laps to go from P9 on the grid to P2, Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was P3 and Fernandez was P4. After a great start, rookie Filip Salač (Gresini Racing Moto2™) highsided out of contention at Turn 5 on Lap 3.
With six laps gone, Vietti boasted a 0.9s lead over Canet as Ogura picked off Fernandez and Arbolino in quick succession. Lowes was in the quartet chasing Canet and Vietti, the latter now 1.5s clear of Canet who was, in turn, 1.9s ahead of the Arbolino, Ogura, Fernandez, and Lowes jostle.
A mistake at Turn 6 on Lap 9 then saw Arbolino lose touch with Ogura, Fernandez and Lowes, as Vietti saw his lead hit the two-second mark for the first time. That didn’t last long though. With 10 laps left, Canet was just 1.5s shy and in two consecutive laps, the Spaniard had reeled in Vietti by 0.3s. The final podium place scrap was raging on. Lowes got the better of Fernandez and Ogura within a lap, with his teammate Arbolino back in contention.
On Lap 14 of 20, Vietti had reopened the gap to Canet. The Italian was 2.3s up the road now and looking good for an opening weekend victory in 2022, with Canet 5.4s clear of the podium fight behind him. Barring any late mishaps, Vietti and Canet were going to finish first and second in Qatar, and it was between Ogura, Fernandez, Lowes, and Arbolino for the final spot on the rostrum.
Two to go. Fernandez dived up the inside of Lowes at Turn 10 for P4, as Ogura held P3 heading into the final lap. Fernandez was climbing all over the back of Ogura’s Kalex, but the Japanese star was holding firm. Fernandez lunged at Turn 15, made it stick, and trying to bite back at the final corner, Ogura tucked the front. He slid into the side of Fernandez, which somehow kept Ogura upright, but the contact cost both Fernandez and Ogura a podium. Lowes said thank you very much, this after Vietti and Canet safely crossed the line to take P1 and P2. Vietti dominant from start to finish; Canet comfortable in P2; injured Lowes picking up the pieces to claim a hard-fought P3.
Fernandez was so close to a debut podium with Red Bull KTM Ajo but it wasn’t to be for the Spaniard, however, P4 is a solid start to the season. Arbolino was in the podium hunt throughout and gives a great account of himself in Qatar, the Italian managed to finish ahead of Ogura – somehow, the Japanese rider finished in P6. Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40) was a lonely seventh ahead of an all American duel between eighth place Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and ninth place Cameron Beaubier (American Racing).
Injured Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) picked up a commendable P10 after breaking his left hand at the Portimao Test, the German rider managed to hold off a recovering Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) – the British rider slipped to P20 on the opening lap from P7 on the grid. Acosta climbed his way back up to P12 in his first Moto2™ race, the 2021 Moto3™ World Champion beat Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Romano Fenati (MB Conveyors Speed Up) – those three riders closed out the points.
Utter domination was the name of the game for Vietti as he takes home a magnificent 25 points from the opening round in Qatar, as the intermediate class now get set for Indonesia.
1. Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team)
2. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 6.154
3. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 10.181
4. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 10.259
5. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 11.421
6. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 12.331
7. Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40) + 14.866
8. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) + 15.371
9. Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) + 17.368
10. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 18.908.
|1||25||13 Celestino Vietti||IT||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Kalex||161.8||39’53.6370|
|2||20||40 Aron Canet||ES||Flexbox HP40||Kalex||161.4||+6.154|
|3||16||22 Sam Lowes||GB||ELF Marc VDS Racing Team||Kalex||161.1||+10.181|
|4||13||37 Augusto Fernandez||ES||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||161.1||+10.259|
|5||11||14 Tony Arbolino||IT||ELF Marc VDS Racing Team||Kalex||161||+11.421|
|6||10||79 Ai Ogura||JP||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||Kalex||160.9||+12.331|
|7||9||9 Jorge Navarro||ES||Flexbox HP40||Kalex||160.8||+14.866|
|8||8||16 Joe Roberts||US||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||160.7||+15.371|
|9||7||6 Cameron Beaubier||US||American Racing||Kalex||160.6||+17.368|
|10||6||23 Marcel Schrotter||DE||Liqui Moly Intact GP||Kalex||160.5||+18.908|
|11||5||96 Jake Dixon||GB||GASGAS Aspar Team||Kalex||160.5||+18.958|
|12||4||51 Pedro Acosta||ES||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||160||+26.051|
|13||3||75 Albert Arenas||ES||GASGAS Aspar Team||Kalex||160||+26.139|
|14||2||52 Jeremy Alcoba||ES||Liqui Moly Intact GP||Kalex||159.7||+31.755|
|15||1||5 Romano Fenati||IT||Speed Up Racing||Boscoscuro||159.5||+33.639|
|16||54 Fermín Aldeguer||ES||Speed Up Racing||Boscoscuro||159.5||+34.155|
|17||42 Marcos Ramirez||ES||MV Agusta Forward Team||MV Agusta||159.4||+36.282|
|18||24 Simone Corsi||IT||MV Agusta Forward Team||MV Agusta||159.5||+37.699|
|19||64 Bo Bendsneyder||NL||Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team||Kalex||159.1||+40.594|
|20||18 Manuel Gonzalez||ES||Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team||Kalex||158.9||+43.946|
|21||2 Gabriel Rodrigo||AR||Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team||Kalex||158.8||+44.347|
|22||61 Alessandro Zaccone||IT||Gresini Racing Moto2||Kalex||158.5||+49.18|
|23||81 Keminth Kubo||TH||Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team||Kalex||158.5||+50.203|
|24||84 Zonta Van Den Goorbergh||NL||RW Racing GP||Kalex||158.1||+56.194|
|25||4 Sean Dylan Kelly||US||American Racing||Kalex||158.1||+56.336|
|26||28 Niccolò Antonelli||IT||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Kalex||158.1||+56.357|
|12 Filip Salac||CZ||Gresini Racing Moto2||Kalex||157.1||2 Laps|
|7 Barry Baltus||BE||RW Racing GP||Kalex||159.5||19 Laps|
|19 Lorenzo Dalla Porta||IT||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||158.6||15 Laps|
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of motoGP.com