Arbolino starts 2023 with excellent 3rd place in #PortugueseGP, Lowes 7th
Tony Arbolino mounted a superb comeback in the Moto2 season opener to finish third while Sam Lowes recovered from a tough first lap to claim good points for seventh.
In a change to the race schedule for 2023, there are no warm-up sessions on Sunday morning, meaning the riders’ first track time of the day was the 21-lap race, which started at 12:20 local time.
Track conditions were perfect at the Algarve International Circuit, as it took place under sunny skies and with track temperatures of 31 degrees.
Tony started steadily, dropping a place from 8th to 9th on lap 2, before working his way through a group of five riders ahead, with a series of excellent overtakes. By lap nine, the Italian was up to 3rd.
After setting his personal best time the 13th lap, Tony started to close in on the lead duo, getting within 0.8s of Pedro Acosta and Aron Canet. But with some laps remaining, the Italian decided to settle for 3rd, 4.4s behind.
This is Tony’s 6th podium in the Moto2 class, and his 4th in the last 5 races!
Honestly, we didn’t expect this but I was mentally prepared to do it. Even still, this was unexpected as we checked the times from Friday and Saturday and it suggested this wouldn’t be the easiest race of the year. But finally, we did it. The bike was working super well, I’m really proud of the team for that. I was trying to catch the first two guys but I was losing one or two tenths in a few corners and wasn’t able to catch them. I was risking too much. Then I saw that there was a gap so I tried to manage it and finish the race.
Sam had a tough start to the race, dropping from 9th to 15th early on. But the Briton set about mounting a recovery, and had claimed three places to sit 12th by lap 7.
Lowes then reeled off a series of laps that were on a par with the leaders to close a 2s gap to a six-rider fight for 7th. He posted his quickest time on lap 17, showing good speed on used tyres.
Eventually, Sam came home seventh, 9.6s back of the victor – a strong showing in his first ride since a long injury, and his best finish since last June’s German GP.
It was the Sachsenring last year when I last had a proper race. That’s a long time for a rider. I wasn’t that sharp in the first laps. I made a bad start and dropped back from 9th to 11th. There were two crashes ahead and I lost quite a bit of time. I think the comeback was good. All my lap times were strong and I enjoyed passing some fast guys ahead. I can really take some positives from that. The shoulder feels a bit fatigued now, but there are no issues. I’m really happy. I know I can be a bit more relaxed on the first laps, be a bit sharper. I just need some results to build on. I had a really good test, and had a solid weekend here when I made no mistakes. That’s what we need this year. We don’t have to be the hottest property today; it’s more about building up to get to where we need to be. Now I can go to the next races and crack on.