Jake Dixon has taken a superb maiden Moto2 World Championship victory after completing a hard fought late fight-back against Ai Ogura to win the Moto2 Dutch TT at Assen.
The British rider was in contention for victory from the off but looked to have scuppered his chances after a mistake handed a plus-second lead to Ai Ogura with just eight laps remaining.
Nonetheless, Dixon reeled the Japanese rider back in with a series of rapid laps before planting a decisive pass for the lead and the win at the start of the penultimate lap.
In a gruelling race that might prove pivotal towards the 2023 Moto2 Championship title fight, Pedro Acosta held on to third after being forced to take a long lap penalty for short cutting the Geert Timmer chicane, the result of the Spaniard making a mighty save while running in second.
However, he resisted Fermin Aldeguer to cling onto third, well ahead of series leader Tony Arbolino, who finished a distant seventh. The pair are now split by seven points in Arbolino's favour heading into the summer break.
Dixon doesn't let error rain on his destiny at Assen
Now in his fifth season of Moto2, Dixon arrived at Assen with a clear aim to finally achieve his target of a maiden race win, a desire fuelled by back-to-back podiums in Italy and Germany that increased his tally to nine rostrum visits, albeit all in third.
Setting the pace in Practice, though beaten to pole by Alonso Lopez, it was the Briton that arguably started as the favourite from second on the grid based on his superior long run pace in training.
However, it was Lopez that led away from pole position, Dixon slotting into third behind fellow front row starter Ogura.
Lopez initially pulled a gap on his rivals behind, but as the race neared the mid-way point, a pass by Dixon on Ogura bunched the pack up back up, the trio being joined by another member in the shape of Acosta who, after a scrappy start, had worked his way back into what was now a clear four-way battle for victory.
No doubt sensing the threat coming from Acosta, Dixon began to put pressure on Lopez, making the most of a strong exit from the Geert Timmer chicane to pass for the lead at Turn 1 with nine laps remaining.
With Lopez's challenge quickly faltering, though Ogura took less than a lap to also slither his way through for second, it was time enough for Dixon to open a near half-second gap.
However, that became elementary when with eight laps to go, Dixon got his braking wrong into the Strubben hairpin, the wide moment allowing Ogura to get ahead, before Acosta too popped by on the drag down to Ruskenhoek.
Allowing Ogura to open up a lead of almost a second on Acosta, Dixon's hopes of victory might have been dashed if he was forced to find a way through on the title contender. However, his path into second was smoothed with just over six laps remaining when Acosta lost the front of his KTM Ajo Kalex at the final chicane.
Though the Spaniard expertly held on to prevent crashing out, it duly sent him out wide onto the run-off, allowing Dixon through and earning himself a long lap penalty for not ceding enough time upon returning to the circuit.
It meant Acosta would drop out of victory contention, though the Spaniard - who filtered back into third - was fortunate not to handed another penalty when it appeared he'd clipped the line upon taking his detour.
Back at the front, Dixon set about closing the gap down on Ogura, the 2022 Moto2 runner-up finding himself in the lead of a Moto2 race for the first time in 2023 having spent much of the season thus far recovering from a complicated wrist injury.
Despite some initially slow progress, Dixon got his head down to set a series of a fast lap, taking fistfuls of time out of Ogura's advantage. Hauling himself onto the tail of the Honda Team Asia bike coming into the penultimate lap, Dixon wasted no time in pouncing.
Pulling alongside down the home straight, Dixon wriggled his GasGas Aspar bike back onto the racing line as they entered the braking zone, baulking Ogura enough that he was forced to let off the anchors and run wide into Turn 1.
It meant Dixon had a comfortable buffer with just two laps remaining, a margin he protected through the final revolution to safely bring it home for his maiden win, his first in 72 Moto2 starts.
Ogura took second for his first podium of the year, the Japanese rider likely to be a big threat during the second-half of the season as he completes his arduous recovery process.
In third, Acosta was made to work hard for his result following an entertaining last lap battle with SpeedUp's Fermin Aldeguer.
The Spaniard endured an up and down race after he was - like Acosta - hit with a long lap penalty for cutting the chicane, which stunted efforts to get into the lead fight. After dropping to seventh, he fought his way back to fourth in the closing stages and even passed Acosta on the final lap, but would ultimately lose out to his countryman in the last turns.
Aron Canet was also in the thick of that third place fight having found himself alongside Acosta when his rival took his penalty, only to be forced down to fifth.
Lopez's rapid descent dropped him to sixth at the flag, though the Spaniard did get back past Arbolino on the final lap, the championship leader enduring his hardest day at the office in 2023 to cede crucial points to Acosta.
Despite this, he holds the championship lead going into the summer break, albeit with a reduced seven-point margin. Dixon, meanwhile, leapfrogs Lopez to hold third overall, 43 points down on Arbolino.
Elsewhere in the race, Manuel Gonzalez came through for eighth, ahead of Albert Arenas and Celestino Vietti, while Sam Lowes never got going in a race he started in fifth position, though the Marc VDS rider did benefit from the late retirement of Filip Salac to secure 11th.
Barry Baltus, Sergio Garcia, Darryn Binder and Jeremy Alcoba completed the points' paying positions down to 15th
Moto2 Dutch TT Assen | RACE Results
|2023 Moto2 Dutch TT | Assen, Netherlands | RACE Results | Round 8 of 20|
|1||Jake Dixon||GBR||Autosolar GasGas Aspar||Kalex||22 Laps|
|2||Ai Ogura||JPN||IDEMITSU Honda Asia||Kalex||+1.334|
|3||Pedro Acosta||ESP||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||+4.448|
|4||Fermin Aldeguer||ESP||SpeedUp Racing||Boscoscuro||+4.487|
|5||Aron Canet||ESP||Pons Wegow Los40||Kalex||+4.884|
|6||Alonso Lopez||ESP||SpeedUp Racing||Boscoscuro||+9.555|
|7||Tony Arbolino||ITA||Elf Marc VDS Racing||Kalex||+9.625|
|8||Manuel Gonzalez||JPN||Yamaha VR46 MasterCamp||Kalex||+10.547|
|9||Albert Arenas||ESP||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||+10.615|
|10||Celestino Vietti||ITA||Fantic Racing||Kalex||+10.761|
|11||Sam Lowes||GBR||Elf Marc VDS Racing||Kalex||+15.964|
|12||Barry Baltus||BEL||Fieten Olie Racing GP||Kalex||+18.234|
|13||Sergio Garcia||ESP||Pons Wegow Los40||Kalex||+20.408|
|14||Darryn Binder||RSA||Husqvarna IntactGP||Kalex||+20.639|
|15||Jeremy Alcoba||ESP||QJMOTOR Gresini||Kalex||+24.492|
|16||Lukas Tulovic||GER||Husqvarna IntactGP||Kalex||+29.418|
|17||Carlos Tatay||ESP||American Racing||Kalex||+32.440|
|18||Joe Roberts||USA||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||+35.017|
|19||Dennis Foggia||ITA||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||+35.235|
|20||Zonta van den Goorbergh||NED||Fieten Olie Racing GP||Kalex||+50.394|
|21||Taiga Hada||JPN||Pertamina SAG Team||Kalex||+1m 09.768|
|22||Yeray Ruiz||ESP||Forward Team||Forward||+3 Laps|
|DNF||Filip Salac||CZE||QJMOTOR Gresini||Kalex|
|DNF||Borja Gomez||ESP||Fantic Racing||Kalex|
|DNF||Alex Escrig||ESP||Forward Team||Forward|
|DNF||Sean Dylan Kelly||USA||American Racing||Kalex|
|DNF||Izan Guevara||ESP||Autosolar GasGas Aspar||Kalex|
|DNF||Somkiat Chantra||THA||IDEMITSU Honda Asia||Kalex|
|W||Bo Bendsneyder||NED||Pertamina SAG Team||Kalex|