The sun was back out in Mugello and the celestial spotlight was firmly on Pedro Acosta, the rookie back to his spectacular self after a quiet start to his season and a blip in Le Mans. An impeccable 21 laps rewarded Acosta with a precious belated birthday present, the youngster’s dominant display turning him into the youngest race winner in the intermediate class at only 18 years and four days. Acosta took the chequered flag four seconds ahead of his closest rival, Joe Roberts resisting pressure from the new joint championship leaders to take a well-deserved second position. Late drama for Celestino Vietti handed the final podium place to rival Ai Ogura, leaving the two riders tied on points in the championship battle.
Acosta had made a perfect start to challenge poleman Aron Canet into San Donato, who immediately found himself in a Marc VDS sandwich. A great launch for Roberts allowed him to attack Tony Arbolino for fourth by the end of the opening lap, while Vietti lost ground early on, dropping to the back of the top 10.
A shaky moment for Acosta over the kerbs coming out of Arrabbiata 2 was the rookie’s only mistake, briefly allowing Canet another go at the front, but Acosta breezed past his compatriot the next time they reached the main straight. Despite some friendly fire between Arbolino and Sam Lowes, the duo kept in touch with the Spaniards ahead, while the chasing group kept dropping a few tenths behind, led by Ogura and Roberts and with Mattia Pasini, Vietti, Jorge Navarro, Cameron Beaubier, Jake Dixon and Alonso Lopez still hanging on. Meanwhile, French GP victor Augusto Fernandez was struggling to recover from his lowly grid position and even poorer start and was at the bottom of the top 20 after the first couple of laps.
Acosta and Canet seemed to stretch a sliver of a gap over the next few laps, while the Marc VDS duo were joined by Ogura and Roberts in the battle for third and Vietti dropped a full second back by lap eight. At the halfway point of the race, Ogura started stealing the spotlight in the chasing group, the Japanese rider attacking both Marc VDS teammates, but his exchanges with Arbolino allowed the two leaders some breathing room. However, there was an added threat from behind, with Vietti catching up with the chasing group for the final 10 laps. Some solid progress was also being made by Fernandez, who was up to 13th position by that stage and showing similar pace to the leaders.
Just as the leaders extended a decent advantage at the front, the pole curse hit again and Canet crashed out quite dramatically at the final corner with nine laps to go. That left Acosta as the sole leader by nearly two seconds, while the balance of power in the chasing group changed in favour of Roberts, Vietti and Ogura, while Arbolino and Lowes dropped to the back of that group and steadily lost touch with the men ahead.
Given Acosta’s untouchable pace at the front, his rivals stood no chance of closing the gap and had to settle for podium crumbs. Despite Roberts and Vietti being inseparable on the timesheets, the championship leader bided his time for an attack and the attack never came as the Italian’s machine gave up the ghost with three laps remaining. Ogura, who had dropped a couple seconds back by that point, suddenly found himself in the final podium position and with no challengers around. Lowes and Arbolino provided the entertainment in the final handful of laps, until the Italian tagged his teammate at turn two with three laps left, forcing him into a crash and scoring himself a long lap penalty in the process.
Acosta started the final lap with an advantage of almost four seconds, with significant gaps between Roberts and Ogura behind him. Arbolino’s penalty dropped him into the clutches of Fernandez, who had steadily worked his way into top five contention and the duo traded places all the way to the chequered flag, Arbolino finishing one hundredth of a second ahead of Fernandez. Dixon, Beaubier, Lopez, Marcel Schrotter and Albert Arenas rounded out the top 10 positions.
Vietti’s misfortune means he’s heading to Catalunya tied on points with Ogura in the world championship standings, while Canet drops 19 points back and Roberts climbs up the standings to fourth, with a 22-point deficit.
|21||84||Zonta Van Den Goorbergh||Kalex||35.223|
|23||4||Sean Dylan Kelly||Kalex||49.897|
|24||Simone Corsi||MV Agusta||38:10.1080|
|19||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Kalex||20:53.2570|
|42||Marcos Ramirez||MV Agusta||19:08.0210|