Pedro Acosta has moved to within striking distance of the 2023 Moto2 World Championship title after tallying up his seventh win of the season by a comfortable margin in the Indonesian Moto2.
Once again demonstrating what has become a trademark signature on race-winning afternoons, Acosta put in the legwork during the early laps to shake off the attentions of Aron Canet, before easing off in the closing stages to win by just over two seconds.
It represents Acosta’s seventh victory of the season on another chastening afternoon for closest rival Tony Arbolino, who couldn’t build on a bright start that had him run as high as third, the Italian slipping to sixth at the flag to leave Mandalika at the wrong end of a 65-point margin to Acosta.
Indeed, the odds coming into the race were already somewhat stacked against him after another lacklustre qualifying effort left him tenth on the grid. While Acosta himself hadn’t taken full advantage with his run to fourth, a rocketing getaway at the lights made this irrelevant, the Spaniard sweeping round pole sitter Canet to lead out of Turn 1.
Undeterred, Canet struck back immediately to shuffle back through on the run to Turn 2, the Pons rider holding steady to head the field back across the start-finish line for the first time. However, it was to be shortlived, Acosta sizing up a pass into Turn 1 that Canet this time couldn’t respond to on the exit.
Releasing Acosta to get down to the ominous race pace he’d shown in practice, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider quickly picked up the pace to put air between himself and Canet, who in turn had escaped from a simmering battle going on behind for third.
It was a station the top two would hold all the way to the flag, Canet’s spirited challenge swinging either side of a second for some of the race, before ceding the fight for victory to Acosta.
A win that will come as some relief to Acosta having started his weekend with a painful crash, victory also serves to vindicate the recent confirmation that he will graduate to MotoGP in 2024 with the GasGas Tech3 team.
After three DNFs from the last five races, Canet steadied his ship with a fourth podium of the season as his wait for a long awaited maiden Moto2 win lingers on.
The Spaniard did briefly come under some pressure in the closing stages from Fermin Aldeguer, who made it an all-Spanish podium with his first trip to the rostrum since his British Moto2 victory in August.
The SpeedUp rider put in an aggressive first few laps to pick his way up from an early running position of sixth, muscling his way into a brewing feud ahead between the fast-starting Arbolino and Manuel Gonzalez for third.
Onto the tail of the pair by lap six, Alderguer picked off Gonzalez for fourth before forcing his way into third on Arbolino, who quickly found himself in fifth after losing momentum in the swap of position.
Moving away from Gonzalez, Alderguer bridged the gap to Canet to a margin of half-a-second coming into the final-quarter of the race, before easing off to protect his second career podium.
Behind him, Jake Dixon would pick off a fading Gonzalez after coming on strong in the closing stages. The Briton spent much of his afternoon on the fringe of battles ahead but after getting past on Arbolino for fifth, lost the position and almost two seconds with a wide moment at Turn 16 with eight laps remaining.
Nevertheless, Dixon dug deep again to catch and pass Arbolino, before mounting a successful attack on Gonzalez for fourth just two corners from the flag. It’s a result that therefore mitigates the damage to the gap between himself and Canet in the standings, Dixon firming up his third overall, 40 points shy of Arbolino in second and 28 points clear of Canet.
Dixon’s late challenge meant Gonzalez fell short of a new career-best result in Moto2 and was instead consigned to personal best-equalling run to fifth for the eighth time.
Arbolino faded into sixth, opening up the possibility of Acosta wrapping up the title as early as Thailand in two events time, ahead of Japanese Moto2 star Somkiat Chantra in seventh and rookie Sergio Garcia in eighth.
Joe Roberts didn’t make a friend of either Sam Lowes or Bo Bendsneyder en route to ninth place, the American muscling his rivals down to tenth and 12th respectively with aggressive overtakes, with the wrong parties split by Dennis Foggia in 11th.
Darryn Binder looked on course to match his one and only top ten finish in MotoGP - achieved in the rain at Mandalika in 2022 - before fading to 13th, while Taiga Hada collected his first-ever Moto2 points with a strong run to 14th. Albert Arenas notched up the final point in 15th.
Elsewhere, there was disappointments for some of the higher-profile contenders with Alonso Lopez’s race being spoiled by a collision at Turn 1 triggered by an errant Jeremy Alcoba, who was duly punished with a double long lap penalty.
Same too Ai Ogura, the Japanese rider earning the wrath of the stewards after punting off Filip Salac on the final corner, the Czech rider having scuppered his hopes of a podium challenge after bogging down at the start from the front row.
Beyond Dixon in fourth and Lowes in tenth, Rory Skinner closed up onto his first Moto2 points with a competitive run to 19th, five seconds shy of his American Racing team-mate Marcos Ramirez in 16th.
|2023 Indonesian Moto2 | Mandalika Circuit | RACE Results | Round 15 of 20|
|1||Pedro Acosta||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||22 Laps|
|2||Aron Canet||🇪🇦||Pons Wegow Los40||Kalex||+2.044|
|3||Fermin Aldeguer||🇪🇦||SpeedUp Racing||Boscoscuro||+4.716|
|4||Jake Dixon||🇬🇧||GasGas Aspar||Kalex||+9.082|
|5||Manuel Gonzalez||🇪🇦||Yamaha VR46 MasterCamp||Kalex||+9.309|
|6||Tony Arbolino||🇮🇹||Elf Marc VDS Racing||Kalex||+11.721|
|7||Somkiat Chantra||🇹🇭||IDEMITSU Honda Asia||Kalex||+13.181|
|8||Sergio Garcia||🇪🇦||Pons Wegow Los40||Kalex||+15.095|
|9||Joe Roberts||🇺🇸||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||+18.296|
|10||Sam Lowes||🇬🇧||Elf Marc VDS Racing||Kalex||+19.165|
|11||Dennis Foggia||🇮🇹||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||+19.589|
|12||Bo Bendsneyder||🇳🇱||Pertamina SAG Team||Kalex||+19.853|
|13||Darryn Binder||🇿🇦||Husqvarna IntactGP||Kalex||+19.986|
|14||Taiga Hada||🇯🇵||Pertamina SAG Team||Kalex||+21.904|
|15||Albert Arenas||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||+23.032|
|16||Marcos Ramirez||🇪🇦||American Racing||Kalex||+27.129|
|17||Ai Ogura||🇯🇵||IDEMITSU Honda Asia||Kalex||+29.575|
|18||Alex Escrig||🇮🇹||Forward Team||Forward||+31.577|
|19||Rory Skinner||🇬🇧||American Racing||Kalex||+32.869|
|20||Jeremy Alcoba||🇪🇦||QJMOTOR Gresini||Kalex||+34.613|
|21||Izan Guevara||🇪🇦||GasGas Aspar||Kalex||+36.857|
|22||Lukas Tulovic||🇩🇪||Husqvarna IntactGP||Kalex||+42.548|
|23||Lorenzo Baldassarri||🇮🇹||Fantic Racing||Kalex||+44.646|
|24||Mattia Casadei||🇮🇹||Fantic Racing||Kalex||+50.906|
|25||Alonso Lopez||🇪🇦||SpeedUp Racing||Boscoscuro||1m 25.058|
|DNF||Barry Baltus||🇧🇪||Fieten Olie Racing GP||Kalex|
|DNF||Zonta van den Goorbergh||🇳🇱||Fieten Olie Racing GP||Kalex|
|DNF||Kohta Nozane||🇯🇵||Yamaha VR46 MasterCamp||Kalex|
|DNF||Filip Salac||🇨🇿||QJMOTOR Gresini||Kalex|
|DNF||Alberto Surra||🇮🇹||Forward Team||Forward|