Features 15 Nov 2023

Countdown: Pathway to Acosta's Moto2 title

Looking at Spaniard's rapid racing journey across recent years.

The most highly-rated emerging talent in the MotoGP paddock, Pedro Acosta’s rapid rise has been nothing short of impressive and the 19-year-old became the youngest-ever Moto2 world champion last Sunday at Sepang. With a contract secure to make the step to the premier class next year as part of GasGas Factory Racing Tech3’s program, Acosta’s Road To MotoGP is all but complete as two races remain in the 2023 season. In this latest Countdown, CycleOnline takes a closer look at the Spaniard’s pathway to the Moto2 title across recent years.

Image: Supplied.

4. Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champion: 
Acosta joined the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup (RBRC) in 2019 and didn’t take long to showcase his potential, scoring three wins in his first season in the series to finish second in the standings, despite missing the first two races at Jerez. A commanding start to Acosta’s Red Bull Rookies Cup charge in 2020 saw him win six consecutive races to open the season, racing on to dominate the points standings and take the title ahead of David Munoz. Acosta also finished third in the Moto3 Junior World Championship, claiming three wins throughout the season, but two DNFs proved costly in his bid for the title and he ultimately concluded the year 22 points behind Ivan Guevara. Importantly, Acosta had scored a prized contract with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team to make the jump to the Moto3 World Championship the following year.

3. Moto3 World Championship winner on debut: 
There’s no doubt Acosta was impressive coming up through the junior categories, even well before his RBRC and JuniorGP days with Spanish titles to his credit, but few could have predicted the instant and immense impact he made upon joining the world championship. Acosta finished second in his first-ever Moto3 World Championship bout, but it was at round two in Doha where he really stunned. Starting from the pitlane, the KTM racer charged through the field and worked his way onto, then through the leading group. When push came to shove, Acosta to the checkers as the leading rider, a mere 0.039s ahead of Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Darryn Binder in what was a memorable and extremely impressive first world championship win for the number 37. He went on to stand tall in the next two races, Portimao and Jerez, to score 95 out of 100 points so far and become the first rider in GP history to finish on the podium four times in a row in his first four world championship encounters. Acosta would race on to take six wins and eight podiums on his way to the 2021 Moto3 title, becoming the second youngest world champion in history at 17 years and 166 days.

Image: Supplied.

2. Learning the ropes in the intermediate class:
After just one season in the Moto3 World Championship, Acosta made the step to Moto2 in 2022, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing from the start. After going 12-9-7 across the opening three rounds of the season, he then non-finishes in three of the next four races. It all clicked at the Italian GP at Mugello, however, and Acosta delivered on his potential to take his first Moto2 win, becoming the youngest-ever victor in the category. Following a second-place finish in Germany for round 10, Acosta broke his femur in a training accident and was ruled out of the next two grand prixs. He returned at the Red Bull Ring, and scored another two victories (Aragon and Valencia) plus a second-place finish at Phillip Island in what was a promising end to his first year in the class.

1. Youngest-ever Moto2 world champion:
Acosta entered the 2023 season as favourite for the Moto2 title, and he made his intentions clear by claiming the opening race victory of the season at Portimao. A DNF at round four in France however saw him 25 points back from title-rival Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) at this point. From there Acosta won five out of the next 10 races, standing on the podium during nine of those rounds to catch and extend a comfortable buffer over Arbolino. A second place in Thailand, then a controlled ride in the sweltering conditions on Sunday at Sepang saw Acosta crowned champion, at 19 years and 171 days. Dani Pedrosa is the only rider younger than Acosta to win an intermediate class world championship. With 14 podiums and seven wins in this year’s campaign, Acosta has the opportunity to add to that tally with nothing to lose across the final two rounds before he makes the highly-anticipated step to MotoGP next year with the GasGas Factory Racing Tech3 team.