Tony Arbolino takes the win, as Celestino Vietti and Aron Canet crash out in COTA.
It’s almost as if we jinxed it in the last article.
The 2022 season has proved nothing short of theatrical so far, and Texas has been no different. With the sun shining down on Austin, all eyes were on the home hero Poleman Cameron Beaubier as the lights went out.
While the American had a strong start off the line, it was Celestino Vietti who gained the holeshot into the left-handed Turn 1, with Aron Canet and Tony Arbolino also squeezing their way through on the opening lap.
As a double wipeout into Turn 12 resulted in Somkiat Chantra, Sam Lowes, Fermin Aldeguer, Gabriel Rodrigo and Zonta Van Den Goorbergh all being caught up in the gravel trap. It began as first offender Chantra ran far too hot into the corner, slamming into the rear end of Lowes’ ELF Marc VDS machine, collecting the Brit from 8th position. Meanwhile, Aldeguer almost repeats the first crash, heading into the back of Van Den Goorbergh; Rodrigo initially avoided the debris by going wide off of the asphalt, but unfortunately ran into Van Den Goorbergh on the ground, and thus prematurely ended his race.
Despite the drama behind, front runners Vietti and Canet continued their pace, breaking away from the likes of Beaubier, Arbolino and Dixon and their fight for the final podium spot. As Canet spent the opening laps hunting down the Italian, it was with 16 laps to go that Canet took to the front through turns 8 and 9, after lining up the move throughout the majority of the first section.
A mistake by Beaubier dropped the American Racing Team rider back to P7, giving Pedro Acosta and Ai Ogura a shot of joining the podium fight. However, a very fast low side from Acosta at Turn 3 saw the rookie chasing down his KTM, ending his podium chances as fast as he joined the battle.
With the title rivals creating a solid gap of 0.6s ahead of the pack, eyes were on those battling behind. However, drama ensued as cameras cut to championship leader Celestino Vietti on the ground, after losing the front end at Turn 6. Unable to return to the race, graphics displayed the new reality of the 2022 season: Aron Canet leading the championship. Despite there still being 14 laps to go, it really did seem like we were witnessing a pivotal moment of the title race, as Canet continued to extend his lead back to P2 by over a second.
With enough drama to last a season in the first 6 laps, it almost seemed we could finally settle in to watch some good on- track action. With Canet out in front, Dixon and Arbolino following 1.5s behind, and Ai Ogura confidently in 4th by a whopping 4.7 seconds, it appeared as though the Top 4 would remain unchallenged for the final 12 laps – with Dixon and Arbolino making good television.
But, as always, this is Moto2, and peaceful Sundays are few and far between.
As the screen displayed Vietti’s crash yet again, the cameras soon cut to what would once again be a pivotal moment in the 2022 season – Canet on the floor. An array of chatter could be seen on the Kalex heading into Turn 7, and resulted in the Spaniard losing the front. With Canet failing to rejoin the race, eyes went to the new race contenders Arbolino and Dixon, with Ogura hunting them in 3rd position.
As 10 laps remained, it’s almost as if a whole new race was taking place, and as none of the Top 8 had ever taken a Moto2 victory, there was once again history to be made.
There was a lot suddenly up for grabs with 10 laps to go, as not only had none of the new Top 8 won a Moto2 race, but Canet’s illustrious second position in the championship was up for grabs, as a DNF from the Flexbox 40 rider meant a drop down to 4th place. By some miraculous turn of events, Canet’s crash also reinstated Vietti as title leader – you could feel the VR46 box let out a sigh of relief.
As the riders became closer to the chequered flag, Arbolino inched closer to his first Moto2 victory as the Spaniard’s gap back to Dixon grew closer to the two second mark. However, Dixon himself proved to not be safe in P2, as a mistake granted Ogura the chance to overtake in the third sector, and so a game of cat and mouse ensued with the Brit hunting to redeem his second place.
Further down the order, Cameron Beaubier was able to recover from a mistake earlier in the race, reclaiming 4th place from Schrotter with 5 laps to go. The American may have lost the race lead from Pole, but Beaubier was still chasing a career-best result within the Top 4.
In the final laps, it was clear to see that Arbolino was set to take the win at COTA. A picture-perfect run saw the ELF Marc VDS Racing Team rider extend his lead north of a whopping 4 seconds back to Ogura, and despite the heartbreak of the title rivals, the victory couldn’t have gone to a stronger rider this weekend. As Arbolino coursed across the line, Ogura was able to hold off from Dixon to take second place, and the Brit settled for his first rostrum in the intermediate class.
However, the final moments hosted some final drama, as Cameron Beaubier lost the front at Turn 16, gifting the 4th place result to Marcel Schrotter. A dream weekend crashing down for the home hero.
Jorge Navarro took 5th place across the line, after being quick off the line and timing his long-lap penalty perfectly so as to not hinder his pace. Jeremy Alcoba was awarded with 6th – a great result from his P15 start – as Bo Bendsneyder battled it out with Joe Roberts to claim P7 ahead of the American, while Augusto Fernandez and Barry Baltus round out the Top 10.
Celestino Vietti still holds onto the title lead, as Ai Ogura now takes on the role of second place.
If COTA has proved anything this year, it’s just how quickly the championship can change at this point in the season. The riders have a week off to recollect themselves before heading to Portugal in 10 days’ time; can Canet redeem himself in the championship, or will Vietti hold his crown now that he knows how it feels to lose it?
Feature Image: MotoGP.com