Celestino Vietti was able to hold off significant and consistent pressure from Somkiat Chantra to win in Argentina. He was joined on the podium by both Honda Team Asia riders, with Chantra in second and Ai Ogura in third.
Celestino Vietti was able to extend his lead at the top of the championship standings with a win in Argentina. The win didn’t come easily as he was forced to pass pole-sitter Fermine Aldeguer and hold off a race-long challenge from Somkiat Chantra.
Our record-breaking pole-sitter, Aldeguer endured a horrible crash as he fought with Vietti. He limped his way back to the garage, the devastation clear on his face.
Chantra was thrilled with second place as he led home a double podium for Honda Team Asia. This result comes straight after his win in Indonesia, showing just how much that result has built his confidence.
The biggest story was the battle for third, which rumbled on for most of the race. In the end, it was Ai Ogura who came out on top, ahead of Aron Canet, taking the final podium position.
AS IT HAPPENED:
As the lights went out, Aldeguer enjoyed a strong start and kept his place at the front of the pack. Tony Arbolino also enjoyed a good start, jumping up from third to second.
Augusto Fernandez, starting in second, had a horrible start and was quickly swallowed by the chasing pack. As they entered turn one, he hit the back of Ogura and crashed out. At the same time, he sent Manuel Gonzalez wide and tumbling down the grid. Fernandez has now failed to win a race since 2019 and will be eager to break this streak soon.
Shortly after, on lap four, Vietti made a late move at turn one and stole the lead from Aldeguer. He quickly found his rhythm and controlled the pack from the front.
With 16 laps to go, Vietti went wide a turn 13 allowing Aldeguer to make his move. As Vietti came back on to the racing line, he came across the front of Aldeguer who was then a passenger as he tumbled in to the gravel. It was a nasty crash that saw him limping away from the track with his arm around a marshal. The stewards deemed the drama as a racing incident with no penalties for either rider.
With Aldeguer back in the garage, Chantra was promoted to second and Canet moved up to third. Chantra quickly caught up to the leader, sitting just 0.2s behind him and breathing down his neck.
With 13 laps left to race, Vietti goes wide again at turn 13, handing the lead to Chantra. However, the same thing happens on the following lap with Chantra the one going wide this time, handing the lead back to Vietti.
As a gap opens up between second and third place riders, Ogura takes that third place spot from Canet. Shortly after, on lap 15, Canet forces himself up the inside of Ogura, only to loose this place three laps later – their ongoing battle allows this gap to open up a little wider. Canet pushes hard but is unable to find a way through until the final lap of the race.
Further down the grid, Jake Dixon was chasing down Arbolino and the rest of the top five riders. Despite sitting two seconds down the road, he was setting some blistering lap times and quickly catching up to Arbolino. Dixon’s moment came on lap 21 as Arbolino seems to start struggling, heading fifth place to the Brit.
At this point in the race, Arbolino wasn’t the only rider to struggle – A number of others were also facing difficulties as Gabriel Rodrigo crashes at turn nine, followed by Jorge Navarro at turn two and Lorenzo Dalla Porta at turn five. This meant that yellow flags were being waved around the circuits, temporarily halting Canet’s attack on Ogura.
On the following lap, with just two laps remaining, Vietti threw down the gauntlet as he finds more lap time and extends the gap to Chantra. At this point, it looked like the win was pretty much in the bag for the championship leader barring any drama or mistakes.
In the dying moments of the race, Canet was still looking for a way past Ogura. On the final lap, he finally forced Ogura to make a mistake as he went wide at turn five. Canet goes on to make a similar error two corners later, however he is just able to stay ahead.
It wasn’t until the penultimate corner that Ogura was able to retake third and, as the checkered flag fell, Ogura flew down the final straight to cross the line 0.1s ahead of Canet.
Just 1.5s earlier, Vietti crossed the line to claim his second win in three races – so far this season, he has only lost five points.
Having fought hard, Dixon managed to keep Arbolino behind him as the pair crossed the line in fifth and sixth respectively. Moto3 champion, Pedro Acosta finished in seventh, enjoying a better race this weekend. The top ten was rounded out by Albert Arenas, Bo Bendsneyder and Sam Lowes.
Feature Image Credit: MotoGP
Posted on 3rd April, 2022 for The PitCrew Online
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