17th May 2023
ARBOLINO RESISTS LATE PRESSURE FOR AWESOME LE MANS WIN!
Tony Arbolino led all 14 laps of the restarted Moto2 race at Le Mans to score his second victory of the year, while Sam Lowes recovered from an initial crash to finish 15th.
A sell-out crowd of 116,692 were in attendance at the historic Le Mans circuit to watch the fifth Moto2 race of 2023, which started at 12.15 local time.
The original race was red flagged on the third lap due to a crash involving Albert Arenas, Manuel Gonzalez, and Aron Canet. The Moto2 outing was then restarted with a reduced distance of 14 laps.
Tony Arbolino’s victory means Elf Marc VDS Racing Team riders have scored podiums in each round of the 2023 Moto2 World Championship so far.
After notching up the 20th pole position of his Moto2 career on Saturday, Sam was involved in the early fight for the lead, and started lap two in third place. But the Brit crashed when entering Turn 3.
As the red flags were shown soon after, the 32-year old was able to make the restart. Despite the heroic work of his mechanics, Sam couldn’t exit pit lane before it was closed, meaning he had to start from the back of the grid.
Sam made good progress through the field in the 14 laps, showing a pace good enough for the podium. He recovered eleven places to score one important point for 15th.
A day on from scoring his first front row start since last year’s Malaysian GP, Tony got off the line brilliantly in both starts, hitting the front and leading confidently.
In the restart, Tony initially pulled out a 0.9s lead over Pedro Acosta, who then crashed when trying to keep up with the Italian. It was then left to Filip Salac to try and reel Tony in. But despite constant pressure, the 22-year old kept his cool to win by 0.62s.
Tony’s second win of the year, and fifth of his Moto2 career, sees him retake the lead of the World Championship with 99 points, 25 ahead of Acosta in second place.
SAM LOWES, 15th
“Obviously it’s disappointing. I had the pace to do something nice and maybe have two Elf Marc VDS riders on the podium. Sometimes racing is like this. Thankfully we could make the restart and get a point. Now we’ve scored points in every race. The team did an amazing job. It was quite a fast crash and the bike was rolling a lot. I have to say thank you to them, both sides of the garage. It’s unfortunate I couldn’t give them a good result. But at least I could fight in the restart, and it was only a short race. The first three laps I didn’t have that much tyre temperature so it took me three laps to keep going. I was actually quite happy with my pace because every time I had a free track, I was running the pace of the leaders. There are some positives to take. The speed in qualifying is something we can take from this weekend. I need to keep working, and keep my head down to come back in Mugello, which has been a good track for me historically. The team should be proud, Tony did a great job. There’s a long way to go. We have three races in a row now so hopefully we can get going there. It was nice to get a point, it feels like we got something out of the weekend and we’ll keep going.”
TONY ARBOLINO, 1st.
“I felt unbelievable for this victory. It wasn’t so expected even if I felt so good this morning and I was ready to do it. I knew I had good pace after the practice sessions so I was sure I could be there, fighting toward the front with a good rhythm. And that’s what I did! I feel so good when I’m in the lead, with no one in front of me. I’m not getting nervous and managing the situation well. I knew when Acosta crashed, I risked to make the lap times but without doing anything too on the limit. I’m so happy. This victory is for the team because they did some excellent work on Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning the bike was 100% better. This is for them. We’ll keep going and polishing the bike. I’m looking forward to the three-week break to rest a bit and come back even stronger for Mugello!”