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MotoGP Portimao: Maiden win for Roberts amid red-flagged Moto2 chaos

Italtrans’ Joe Roberts claimed his maiden Moto2 victory amid a chaotic and red-flagged Portuguese GP on Sunday afternoon.

The first American in 11 years crossed the line three-seconds clear of championship leader Celestino Vietti with Jorge Navarro completing a heroic podium despite suffering from a damaged cruciate ligament following a recent training incident.

Pons racer Aron Canet initially sat on pole ahead of the final race action of the afternoon. American Racing’s Cameron Beaubier and GasGas Aspar’s Jake Dixon completing the front row with Marc VDS’ former and current riders Tony Arbolino, Augusto Fernandez and Sam Lowes locking out row two. Championship leader Vietti had his work cut out after a difficult qualifying resulted in a 13th place grid start ahead of 23 laps around the Algarve International Circuit.


Beaubier took charge as the lights released the pack, Arbolino up to second with Canet third as the Brits went backwards off the line. Dixon was running ninth with Lowes two behind as the opening lap unfolded and the clouds threatened rain overhead.

Canet was back up to second as the first lap completed, Honda Team Asia’s Somkiat Chantra and Ai Ogura running fourth and fifth before the Thai rider pushed through to third and Canet took the lead.

 Roberts sat seventh on the Italtrans machine ahead of Dixon and Aspar teammate Albert Arenas, as Lowes retuned to the top ten. Vietti a second adrift of the Marc VDS with Marcel Schrotter and Navarro further back.

The rain flags began to wave as lap three fired up and Chantra dispatched his long lap penalty from the Austin incident. The number 35 returning to the pack and splitting the Aspar pair in eight.

Dixon made a move on Roberts for sixth as Marcos Ramirez crashed out on the MV Agusta at turn 13. Chantra bettering both the Brit and American for position next time around as Ogura mirrored out front for third.

Beaubier picked up the pace as he looked to stay with leader Canet, the pair half a second free of Ogura in third with the same again to Arbolino in fourth. The pack answering next time around as the Japanese rider began to challenge the American and Fernandez dispatched the Marc VDS narrowly behind.

Lowes found a way through on Arenas for ninth as lap eight wound down before immediately heading after Roberts ahead.

Rain hammered down on the fastest part of the track as lap nine began and the front runners all skittled out at turn two. The gravel trap littered with machines and one bike on fire as the red flags came out. Ten riders were involved in the incident as the rest recovered to the pits. All riders conscious but Lowes openly in pain with his right arm as he too returned to the garage.

A seven lap restart saw the crashed riders ineligible for the final action due to the ‘five minute rule’ in returning to pit lane. Dixon lined up on pole from Roberts and Vietti with just 18 riders able to compete. Lorenzo Dalla Porta missing the 60-second pit lane window to join the depleted grid.


The rain had all but subsided as the sprint got the green light. Dixon maintaining the advantage from Roberts as Fermin Aldeguer grabbed third before the Brit crashed out at turn seven.

Roberts disappeared in the lead as the race unfolded. Schrotter running second from Navarro and Vietti with Aldeguer fifth. VR46 Master Camp’s Manuel Gonzalez bettering the Speed Up for position with five laps to go as Niccolò Antonelli crashed out next time around.

A block pass secured second for Navarro at the halfway stage, Roberts holding a four-second lead out front as Vietti launched for podium contention to salvage what had been a disappointing weekend so far.

Gonzales muscled through on Schrotter as the Liqui Moly dropped back to fifth. Vietti continuing to improve as he advanced to second with two to go.


The final lap saw the podium battle heat up as Navarro reeled in Vietti and Schrotter returned to fourth. Roberts claiming the dramatic victory with a cruising three-second lead from Vietti and Navarro with Schrotter and Gonzales completing the top five.

Aldeguer claimed sixth from Jeremy Alcoba before being hit with a one place penalty after the flag, Bo Bendsneyder, Barry Baltus and Gabriel Rodrigo rounding out the top ten. Romano Fenati, Keminth Kubo, Sean Dylan Kelly, Filip Salac and Alessandro Zaccone the final finishers with points for all.

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