If the lightweight class race was uncharacteristically calm, the intermediate class decided to start off with a bang or two, including a red flag and drama for the poleman. However, Tony Arbolino expertly navigated all of that to put his name in the record books as the Moto2 winner of the 1000th GP. Filip Salac tried to have a say in that but never got an opportunity to attack and settled for second, equalling his best result in the class. Alonso Lopez took third, becoming a familiar sight on the podium so far this season.
Expectations were high for Sam Lowes, coming off a perfect weekend in Jerez and a pretty perfect Saturday at Le Mans but despite a good initial start from pole position, Arbolino and Lopez were quick to steal the Brit’s limelight. While Arbolino went on to extend a one second advantage at the front over the first two laps, Lowes lost control at turn two and slid into the gravel. However, this was followed by a big crash at La Chapelle, where Albert Arenas losing the front caused havoc for Manuel Gonzalez and Aron Canet and brought out the red flag while the medical team helped out Canet.
A new 14-lap race soon resumed from original grid positions but with Lowes starting from the back of the grid after missing pitlane closing by a couple of seconds, his team doing an impressive job to fix his machine and allow him to rejoin the action. Once again, it was Arbolino getting the holeshot over Lopez into turn one, closely followed by Pedro Acosta, Salac, Celestino Vietti and a fast-starting Fermin Aldeguer shooting up to sixth. Jake Dixon, Somkiat Chantra, Barry Baltus and Lukas Tulovic made up the early top 10, while Lowes recovered a couple of positions to 24th on the opening lap.
It was a bit of a déjà vu at the front, Arbolino quickly extending a one second advantage, helped by Acosta and Lopez trading places and a big moment for Acosta at turn six. But once Acosta settled in second, he was steadily reeling in the leader, while dropping Lopez into Salac’s clutches. Almost two seconds behind, Vietti was in the lead of a sizeable pursuit by lap four.
Arbolino was forced to pick up the pace to halt Acosta’s progress, but he needn’t have worried, as Acosta threw it away in a tumble at turn seven, leaving the Italian with a healthy lead of almost two seconds on lap five. Salac was now his main rival, having overtaken Lopez at turn six and the Czech rider became a real threat only one lap later, helped by Arbolino going wide at Garage Vert and allowing him to get within half a second. Lopez wasn’t too far back either, while Vietti was maintaining the two second gap to the podium battle, joined by Chantra. Dixon lost another second on the duo but was left to go about his business and recover that gap once Aldeguer served a long lap penalty on lap nine and gave him some breathing room.
By lap 10, the leading trio was back together but Arbolino was yet to be challenged at the front, as Salac could not find a gap and Lopez looked like he was just about hanging onto the duo but unable to go any quicker. Arbolino started the final lap with only three tenths’ advantage but managed the gap to the chequered flag and forced Salac to settle for second. Lopez secured the final podium position, while Vietti got within seven tenths of the podium in the final couple of laps and took a solid fourth place. Dixon caught up with Chantra with two laps remaining to claim fifth, with Baltus taking seventh place ahead of Aldeguer, who did well to recover a couple of positions to eighth after serving his penalty. That left Ai Ogura and Sergio Garcia rounding out the top 10, while Lowes took the final point scoring position on the final lap.
Arbolino leaves France with an advantage of 25 points in the world championship over Acosta, with Lopez 38 points back and Salac 39. The unfortunate Canet was not able to take the restart and drops a couple of places to fifth, with a 47-point deficit.
|16||4||Sean Dylan Kelly||Kalex||14.633|
|20||84||Zonta Van Den Goorbergh||Kalex||22.684|
|21||19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||25.265|
I was afraid two weeks ago Sam would bin it from seventh, at least he wasn't seventh...
Lowes How does a rider who…
How does a rider who exits before the race is reflagged get to restart?? I'm sure its in the rules (same lap or something) but I'm calling BS
In reply to Lowes How does a rider who… by raffles
If the red comes out in the first three laps, it's considered a full restart (of reduced duration). Everyone can start, regardless of the circumstances of the abandoned part of the race. We saw that last night not only with Lowes, but also the fella who broke down on the warmup lap.
If the red comes out after 3 laps, only those who are deemed to be still "actively competing" in the first part of the race are eligible to restart. There are a bunch of regulations covering it, but broadly you have to be no more than 2 laps down at the time and make it back on your bike to pit lane within five minutes.
I think according to the rules you only have to trigger the pit entry beam together with the bike to be deemed finished. A canny rider should know all these minor details by heart, and a canny team boss will drill it into riders who can't think of it for themselves. For example, if the bike is dead I think it could be towed around to the pit entry by a team mate, as long as it trips the beam with the rider on it or pushing it?
I get that it seems unfair Lowes got to restart, these regs must have been dreamt up in response to some set of circumstances or other. Very occasionally it delivers a bonus to those like Lowes, maybe not fair but it spices things up. It's excellent TV watching people flailing around not quite sure what the rules are, and the heroic efforts of the team techs in repairing the bikes are awesome. Lowes was snoozing and was way too late back to the box. Even when he was back he was yabbering away with helmet and gloves off like 50sec from pit lane opening, at which point he has only 60 sec to get past pit exit. They fell short by only 5sec which was kinda tragic but great TV and perhaps a bit more just.
In reply to <3 laps by breganzane
thanks mate for the…
thanks mate for the explanation, and indeed hats off to the mechanics, but still a shitty rule
In reply to thanks mate for the… by raffles
I'll grant you it's an odd…
I'll grant you it's an odd one, anyone here know when it came about and whether it was in response to a specific incident? I guess the intention of the rule did not include a polesitter crashing separately on the same lap, early in the race.
I do remember they changed something a number of years back in response to an incident when someone crashed on their own, which caused an even bigger pile up, which brought out the red flag. Pretty sure it was a 125cc race, perhaps at Motegi. Many of those in the resultant pileup could not restart but the guy that triggered it could. I thought they made a rule that said if you triggered a red flag, you could not restart. My eyes glazed over reading the FIM rulebook before getting that far...
Given the article title, that all the comments should be about SL22. :-)