For the first time this season, Pecco Bagnaia is no longer leading the championship standings. After winning today’s Sprint Race, Jorge Martin now leads the title race by 7 points! He was joined on the podium by both VR46 riders, Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi.
We have reached a crucial point in the season now – Indonesia is the first venue for the final 6 races of the season and marks the countdown to the end of the year. We have two triple-headers now, which can make or break a rider’s championship hopes.
Today’s Sprint Race was won by the rider who is currently riding high on momentum, and the points haul has given him the top spot in the championship standings. This is the first time in 2023 that Pecco Bagnaia has not topped the standings.
Jorge Martin showed his prowess today as he fought his way through from 6th on the grid to be leading the race by lap 5.
Joining him on the podium were both VR46 riders who have both had recent surgery on their collar bones, making their double podium even more impressive. Luca Marini, who started on pole, came home 2nd with Marco Bezzecchi less than a second behind him.
Maverick Vinales led the race in the early stages but eventually slipped back and ended the race in 4th. He looked to be struggling on his Aprilia machine, with the front of the bike not where he would want it to be. This saw him going wide in a number of corners and that’s what saw him ultimately miss out on a podium.
Fabio Quartararo came home in an promising 5th place, just ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio. This was the best race result of the season for the Gresini rider who is, at the moment, without a ride for the 2024 season.
The two Ducati riders were next to see the checkered flag, with Enea Bastianini in 7th, returning from his crash in Catalunya and Pecco Bagnaia in 8th, unable to make any significant moves in the race. Rounding out the points-finishing position, in 9th, was Jack Miller and his Red Bull KTM machine.
AS IT HAPPENED
As the lights went out it was Luca Marini, our pole sitter, who flew off the line and led the field off the grid. At turn 1, Maverick Vinales made an aggressive move up the inside of the leader to take over at the front.
It was a bad start for his teammate Aleix Espargaro, who quickly dropped from 3rd to 6th. This promoted Fabio Quartararo up to 3rd but it was clear he was lacking pace and that held up the rest of the field behind him. With clear air ahead of him, Vinales and Marini were able to break away from the pack.
On turn 11 of the first lap, Marc Marquez found himself in the kitty litter as the rear end let go and the bike just slid out from underneath him.
Jorge Martin quickly made his way past Quartararo and in to 3rd, with a move at turn 10 on lap 2. He quickly got his head down and began chasing down the leading pair.
A few corners later, whilst making a move up the inside of Brad Binder for 5th place, Espargaro’s bike slid out from underneath him and he took Binder down with him. The incident was under investigation for a short while, before the Stewards quickly decided there was no penalty necessary.
These two DNFs promoted Pecco Bagnaia up to 9th and in to the points. Meanwhile, Martin, his championship rival was setting fastest laps and getting ever closer to the leading two riders.
On lap 5, Martin was finally able to make a move past Marini and took over in 2nd place.
At the halfway point, Vinales continued to lead the race and was 0.8 seconds ahead of the rest. Martin was in 2nd, with Marini and Marco Bezzeccho in 3rd and 4th.
By lap 9, the gap at the front was down to 0.2s and that allowed Martin to throw his bike down the inside of Vinales to snatch the lead with a very risky and aggressive move.
Vinales seemed to be facing a few issues in the closing stages of the race and was going wide in multiple corners as the front of the bike seemed to get away from him. This left him vulnerable to the two VR46 riders.
Exactly one lap after he lost the lead to Martin, Vinales then lost 2nd place to Marini. The move was an exact mirror image on Martin’s move, with Marini throwing it up the inside at turn 10.
Across the line to start lap 11 and Bezzcchi was now dicing with Vinales as the Aprilia rider continued to slip backwards. However, it wasn’t until turn 10 of the final lap when he was able to get past and take the final podium position spot.
|1st||Jorge Martin||Prima Pramac|
|2nd||Luca Marini||Mooney VR46|
|3rd||Marco Bezzecchi||Mooney VR46|
|6th||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Gresini|
|9th||Jack Miller||Red Bull KTM|
|10th||Miguel Oliveira||CryptoDATA RNF|
|11th||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda|
|12th||Johann Zarco||Prima Pramac|
|13th||Augusto Fernandez||GASGAS Tech3|
|14th||Raul Fernandez||CryptoDATA RNF|
|16th||Joan Mir||Repsol Honda|
|17th||Pol Espargaro||GASGAS Tech3|
|18th||Alex Rins||LCR Honda|
|19th||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM|
DNF = Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).
Feature Image Credit: MotoGP