MotoGP: Bagnaia Wins First Race of Season Whilst Rookie Acosta Shines

Pecco Bagnaia on his way to winning the Qatar GP.

The grid were back in action at Qatar this weekend – after months of development, days of testing and hours of speculation, it was time to see how the riders would actual perform!

Our reigning champion was untouchable today in Qatar. Pecco Bagnaia and his mighty Ducati machine cruised to a seemingly easy victory after hitting the front very early on. He flew off the starting grid to lead after only a few corners. Once he hit the front, he dictated the pace for the rest of the field and never looked back.

Despite the dominant win for Bagnaia, the race wasn’t without it’s drama. Mere moments before the lights went out, Raul Fernandez waved to the track officials, signalling an issue with his bike. The start was then delayed further as Fernandez, who had got his bike restarted, argued with the officials about his need to start the race from pitlane. His day then went from bad to worse as his Trackhouse machine faced technical issues and he was forced to retire from the race; not an ideal start to this brand new team’s MotoGP career.

The full MotoGP fly off the starting grid at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar
Image credit: MotoGP

Brad Binder and his Red Bull KTM put on a fabulous show for the crowd at the Lusail International Circuit. In typical Binder fashion, he had a great start from 4th on the grid and enjoyed a race-long battle with Jorge Martin as the pair jostled for 2nd. It was Binder who eventually came out on top, enjoying his second 2nd place of the weekend, after coming home in the same position at Saturday’s sprint race.

Whilst Martin may have hoped for more than 3rd after his Sprint race win, he has already enjoyed a much stronger start to his title campaign than he did in 2023. Many will be hoping he can keep up this momentum for the rest of the season.

For many MotoGP fans, their attentions were solely on Marc Marquez as he took to the track for the first time in Gresini blue. He had a brilliant race and will undoubtedly be happy to come home in 4th. He enjoy lots of battles with, none more so than a fantastic fight with our only rookie on the grid, Pedro Acosta.

Acosta finished the day in 9th but that result doesn’t do justice to his strong race. The rookie has been impressing many up and down the paddock and he enjoyed a strong race, moving up from 8th on the starting grid to 4th. He did look set for a podium finish but faded later in the race – it seems he went out too hot in the early stages and was left battling with serious tire wear. With just 8 laps remaining, he slipped back down the grid to end the day just inside the top 10.

Pedro Acosta and Marc Marquez battle at the Qatar GP. Acosta is forcing his bike up the inside of Marquez.
Image Credit: MotoGP

It was a difficult day for Jack Miller who crashed at turn 2 on the 2nd lap – whilst he was able to rejoin the pack, picking the bike up surprisingly quickly, he came home in 21st and last today. There have been lots of discussions about future the line up for the Red Bull KTM team so with his team mate on the podium and Acosta showing his ability so early in his career, it wasn’t an ideal day for the Aussie rider.

Full Results:
1st Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
2nd Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
3rd Jorge Martin Prima Pramac
4th Marc Marquez Gresini
5th Enea Bastianini Ducati
6th Alex Marquez Gresini
7th Fabio Di Giannantonio VR46 Racing Team
8th Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
9th Pedro Acosta GASGAS Tech3
10th Maverick Vinales Aprilia
11th Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
12th Johann Zarco LCR Honda
13th Joan Mir Repsol Honda
14th Marco Bezzecchi VR46 Racing Team
15th Miguel Oliveira Trackhouse
16th Alex Rins Yamaha
17th Augusto Fernandez GASGASG Tech3
18th Franco Morbidelli Prima Pramac
19th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
20th Luca Marini Repsol Honda
21st Jack Miller Red Bull KTM

DNF: Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse)

Championship Standings:
1st Pecco Bagnaia 31 points
2nd Brad Binder 29 points
3rd Jorge Martin 28 points
4th Marc Marquez 18 points
5th Enea Bastianini 15 points

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP Website

MotoGP: Martin Wins Breathtaking Race in Thailand

Jorge Martin has taken possibly the best win of his career, eventually coming out on top ahead of his nearest championship rider and one of the hardest racers on the grid. He celebrated like he had won the title, showing just how crucial this victory is for his championship campaign.

With the top three riders covered by less than 0.3 sections, we spent most of the race not knowing who was going to come out on top. Eventually, it was Jorge Martin who came out on top. He battled hard but it was a clean and mistake-free final lap that eventually gave him the win.

Brad Binder fought hard to cross the line in 2nd – however, he faced a post-race penalty for track limits that ultimately demoted him to 3rd. He left everything out on the track today and, in the latter stages of the race, looked like he could be on for his first win of the season.

Binder’s demotion handed 2nd place to our championship leader, Pecco Bagnaia. It wasn’t an easy race for the Italian, who started in 6th, dropped back to 7th and was forced to fight his way up through this field. It was a brilliant recovery rider that allowed him to keep the lead in the title fight, with the final 3 races of the season left.

 

Bagnaia now has just a 13 point lead over Martin, with his lead being cut by 14 points across this weekend. It is looking more likely than ever that this championship will continue to be fought until the final race of the season in Valencia.

Alex Marquez should have been on the podium but he crashed out on lap 14, whilst running 3rd. He was the only rider with a medium rear tire (everyone else ran a hard rear tire) which could have caused his mid-race mistake.

It was a positive day for Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez, who came home in 6th and 7th respectively – both riders seem to have found their groove again this weekend and laid down some brilliant moves that showed us why they are champions in their own right.

The top 10 was rounded out by Fabio Di Giannantonio in 9th, who is still desperately seeking a rider for 2024, and Johann Zarco in 10th, who had a difficult day after the highs of his maiden win last weekend.

Image Credit: MotoGP on X
MOMENTUM SHIFT?

Watching Jorge Martin’s celebrations during the cooldown lap and when he returned to parc ferme, you would be forgiven for thinking he had won the championship today. He ripped the windshield off his bike and his visor off his helmet as he celebrated. Instead, he just closed the gap to Pecco Bagnaia by 5 points. However, this race felt like so much more than 25 points.

After two difficult races, with a crash in Indonesia and a bad choice of tires in Australia, it was crucial for Martin to come back stronger than ever. He could have crumbled under the pressure and handed the control over to Bagnaia, but he seems to have come back stronger than ever. This was just the weekend he needed with a dominant sprint race win and today’s breathtaking performance.

Meanwhile, Bagnaia looked very subdued and quiet during the post-race celebrations today. He is still leading the championship fight but he certainly doesn’t look comfortable or confident ahead of the last 3 races of the year.

Regardless of who wins the title, this race is clearly a crucial moment in the championship battle and one we will likely look back on as pivotal in the fight.

 

BEST RACE OF THE SEASON?

Many people across social media and throughout the paddock have hailed this the best race of the season. Seeing the riders watching the key race action in the cool down room, before their podium celebrations, it’s clear that their reactions also matched this.

With just 0.25 seconds covering the top 3 riders as they met the chequered flag, this is the 4th closest podium in the premier class’ history. But this race was so much more than just the top 3 riders – there were battles up and down the field with aggressive, experienced and beautiful moves being made almost every lap.

At one point in the race, Pecco Bagnaia was stuck down in 7th place and seemed unable to make any moves of those ahead of him. To pull it back and salvage a 2nd place, that was almost a race win, shows how phenomenal his performance was. We also had the joy of seeing previous champions, Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez enjoying some exciting battles within the top 10.

For so many reasons, this race will clearly go down in history books, with action from start to finish and rider’s prowess shining through.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP on X

MotoGP: Martin Takes Dominant Sprint Win in Thailand

Jorge Martin has enjoyed a strong Saturday at the Thai GP – he took pole in the morning and followed this up with a very dominant performance in the sprint race. He flew off the line, led every lap, and eventually crossed the line 0.9 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

After a difficult race in Phillip Island, Jorge Martin has quickly bounced back today at the Chang International Circuit to take his fifth consecutive sprint race win. It was a truly dominant ride after he flew off the line and quickly put clean air between him and the rest of the field. No one could come close to him as he enjoyed a 1+ second lead for the majority of the race.

Our championship leader, Pecco Bagnaia, had a much more difficult day – he arrived in Thailand with a 27 point lead in the championship. However, after coming home in 7th, this has dropped to just 18 points. With 136 points still up for grabs, the 2023 title could go to either rider!

Martin was joined on the podium by Brad Binder, in 2nd, and Luca Marini in 3rd. It was a strong race for both of them as they looked to have good pace and enjoyed a tussle for 2nd place.

Marc Marquez came home in 4th place, after an aggressive last lap fight with Aleix Espargaro. It was a final corner move from Marquez that forced Espargaro to have to settle for 5th.

Image Credit: MotoGP on X
AS IT HAPPENED

Despite rain being forecast for today, the sprint race took place under glorious sunshine. We started with Jorge Martin on pole and championship leader, Pecco Bagnaia starting in 6th.

As the lights went out, Luca Marini, who started in 2nd, did try to take the lead of the race. He pulled up alongside Martin off the line but Martin was clearly ahead by the first corner. By the end of the first lap, Martin was already leading by 0.6 seconds.

It was a very difficult start for Bagnaia who quickly dropped down the order. There was an aggressive early move from Johann Zarco to take 8th away from Bagnaia. A few corners later, Fabio Quartararo made a similar move and pushed Bagnaia down to 10th.

As everyone settled in to the race, we had Martin leading, with Marini in 2nd, Aleix Espargaro in 3rd, Brad Binder in 4th, Marc Marquez in 5th and Marco Bezzecchi in 6th. Just behind them were Alex Marquez, Zarco, Quartararo and Bagnaia who were all battling hard 7th.

On lap 2, Binder shoved his bike up the inside of Espargaro for 3rd. Marc Marquez made a similar move a few corners later and pushed Espargaro down further to 5th.

It was on this same lap that we had our first crash of the race, with Takaaki Nakagami going down at turn 12. He was able to rejoin the race but wasn’t able to make any moves up through the field.

On the following lap, at turn 15, Bezzecchi took 6th position back from Alex Marquez who had bested him on the lap before. This now left Marquez and Zarco battling hard for 7th. After losing a place to Zarco, Marquez came back past him, pushing his way up the inside at turn 12. This move sent both Marquez and Zarco wide, gifting a lucky 7th place to Bagnaia who flew past them both as they rejoined the racing line. This battle allows Marc Marquez, in 6th, to pull out a 1.5 second gap ahead.

Just ahead, on lap 5, Binder in 3rd was now hot on the tail of Marini in 2nd. Binder finally makes a move on the following lap but he goes wide and allows Marini to instantly come back through. It was lap 7 when Binder was finally able to take, and hold, 2nd place. He came through on the final corner in a very tight and aggressive move. All this battling has allowed Espargaro, behind them in 4th, to close the gap down to 0.2 seconds. However, ahead of them all, Martin was now leading by 1.6 seconds.

On the same lap, Augusto Fernandez became the first rider to retire. He went down at the final corner, turn 12, and was unable to rejoin the race. Then, on lap 10, Fabio Di Giannantonio faced a similar fate and was forced to head to the pits and retire the bike after a technical issue.

Meanwhile, on lap 5, Marquez takes 5th place away from Bezzecchi. A few laps later, the VR46 rider ten has Bagnaia all over the back of him too.

On the final lap of the race, and with Martin simply cruising to the line, the drama was still unfolding further down the field. At turn 3, Espargaro goes wide and lets Marquez through for 4th. As Espargaro attempts to regain the position, the pair bump into each other. Espargaro is only ahead for a short while as, on the final corner of the race, Marquez makes a stunning move up the inside to stead 4th as the pair cross the line – a fantastic photo finish!

Image Credit: MotoGP on X

Feature Image Credit: Prima Pramac on X

MotoGP: Zarco Finally Takes Maiden Victory at Phillip Island

Everyone loves MotoGP at Phillip Island but, today, no one loves it more than Johann Zarco. The Australian track has given us some historic races over the years and today was no exception.

After 258 races in MotoGP, Johann Zarco has won his maiden race. It was a stunning performance from the Frenchman as he fought his way back from a poor start and calculated the final laps to perfection.

However, it wasn’t all joy in the Prima Pramac garage as their championship contender, Jorge Martin, lost a comfortable lead on the final lap. He dropped back from 1st to 5th as his gamble of running on soft tires failed to pay off. He spent 20 of the 27 laps with a 3+ second lead but wasn’t able to hold off the chasing pack.

As Martin’s championship hopes faded, Pecco Bagnaia came up in 2nd place. He remained within the chasing pack for most of the race and made a stunning move with only a few corners remaining. He will certainly be celebrating extending his championship lead when it looked to likely that this wouldn’t be the case.

The final podium place was taken by Fabio DiGiannantonio who is fighting for a place on the MotoGP grid next year. This maiden podium couldn’t have come at a better time and his aggressive, confident riding through the race, will have undoubtedly helped his cause.

The race was packed with drama from start to finish, with big moves and plenty of overtakes happening up and down the grid. It is certainly a race that will be talked about for years to come but its effect on the final championship result are yet to be known.

Image Credit: MotoGP
AS IT HAPPENED

Jorge Martin and Brad Binder, starting from 1st and 2nd respectively, flew off the line and quickly put clean air between them and the rest of the field. Despite Binder pulling up alongside Martin, it was the Prima Pramac machine that was quicker and able to keep the lead. Pecco Bagnaia then slotted himself in to 3rd. Jack Miller, the home hero, had a great start going from 8th on the grid to 4th.

It was a tricky start for Marc Marquez who slipped back from 7th to 10th, as well as Johann Zarco who dropped from 5th to 8th.

Martin was quick to pull a gap out between himself and Binder. Meanwhile, in to turn 11, Miller made a move up the inside of Bagnaia to take 3rd away from the championship leader. However, on the following lap, Miller goes wide and drops back to 6th. This allowed Fabio DiGiannantonio and Marquez to gain positions.

All this battling allows Binder to pull a 1.2 second gap over Bagnaia in 3rd. Martin was then a further 0.5s down the road.

In to turn 2 on lap 3, DiGiannantonio makes an aggressive move to steal 3rd place from Bagnaia. Further back on the same lap, Marquez goes wide thanks to pressure from Zarco. This lets through Zarco, who is now up to 5th and Miller, who is up to 6th. Marquez remains close behind Miller but isn’t able to get back past.

With drama unfolding up and down the field, the leading trio of Martin, Binder and DiGiannantonio are all enjoying comfortable gaps. Behind them is where the drama is unfolding. It seems like Bagnaia is riding slower than others and that sees him backing up the pack somewhat.

The battles between 4th and 10th are hotting up and, on lap 6, there are moves happening up and down the field. Zarco makes his way past Marquez for 5th, Aleix Espargaro takes 7th from Miller and Marco Bezzecchi takes 9th away from Alex Marquez. Zarco continues battling with Marc Marquez throughout the lap, with the pair jostling back and forth. Eventually, it is Zarco who comes out on top and instantly sets his sights on Bagnaia in 4th.

A few laps later and there seemed to be spots of rain falling across the track. It isn’t heavy enough to affect the riders but it was certainly visible on their visors. By this point, Martin was now leading by 2.4 seconds.

On lap 11, Joan Mir crashed out of 15th place. Going in to turn 4, he bumped in to Luca Marini and ended up in the gravel. The incident was reviewed by the stewards deemed that no further action was necessary.

The following lap and the battle behind the leading pack continues. Espargaro gets past Marquez for 7th and, a few corners later, Miller makes a similar move. This pushes Marquez back down to 8th.

On lap 13, turn 4 takes another victim as Augusto Fernandez slides out of contention.

Bagnaia, by lap 15, is the fastest rider on the field and catching up to DiGiannantonio. However, with Zarco breathing down his neck, the reigning champion is forced to turn his attention to defending and that allows DiGiannantonio to pull a 1 second lead over his rivals.

With rubber flying off everyone’s tires – even the medium tires – Martin’s lap times were dropping significantly. However, he had been able to maintain a steady gap. Just behind, and despite being close on his tail for a few laps, it wasn’t until lap 19 when DiGiannantonio was able to get past Binder for 2nd. Their battle allows Bagnaia to close the gap and he is now hot on the tail of Binder.

With DiGiannantonio now in second, he gets his head down and starts to chase down Martin in the lead. He quickly brings down the gap from 3.4 seconds to 2.8, and brings Binder (in 3rd), Bagnaia (in 4th) and Zarco (in 5th) along with him.

On the following lap, the gap is cut by a further 0.3 seconds and DiGiannantonio has even managed to pull out a 0.5 second lead over Binder.

On lap 22, Zarco takes 4th place away from Bagnaia – he came up alongside the Italian on the start-finish straight and had shut the door on him but turn 1. At the same time, Martin reacts to the mounting threat behind him and stabilises the gap – DiGiannantonio is now no longer closing in on him.

The following lap, Binder is able to pull up alongside DiGiannantonio and regain 2nd place. It’s Binder who now significantly closes the gap at the front and, within 2 laps, this is reduced to less than 1.2 seconds.

On lap 26, Zarco is able to get past Binder for 2nd place. The attack forces him slightly wide and as the pack bunches up, Binder ends up dropping from 2nd to 5th. Now, the chasing pack are just 0.4 seconds behind Martin.

On the final lap of the race, we have an exciting 5-way battle for the win with Martin in 1st, Zarco 2nd, Bagnaia 3rd and DiGiannantonio 4th. But Zarco is able to pull away from Bagnaia, leaving him vulnerable to DiGiannantonio who makes his move up to 3rd. Zarco then makes a move for the lead, which he times to perfection. He brings Bagnaia with him who makes a stunning move for 2nd place. The chaos lasts for a few final corners, in which Martin drops from 1st to 3rd.

As the checkered flag falls, it’s Zarco who claims the victory, ahead of Bagnaia in 2nd and DiGiannantonio in 3rd. Just behind them, on the final straight, Martin loses 4th place to Binder. Bezzecchi is the “best of the rest” in 6th, whilst Miller snatches 7th place away from Espargaro on the line.

FULL RESULTS
1 Johann Zarco Prima Pramac
2 Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
3 Fabio DiGiannantonio Gresini
4 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
5 Jorge Martin Prima Prama
6 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
7 Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
8 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
9 Alex Marquez Gresini
10 Enea Bastianini Ducati
11 Maverick Vinales Aprilia
12 Luca Marini Mooney VR46
13 Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
14 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
15 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
16 Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
17 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha
18 Pol Espgararo GASGAS Tech3
19 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda

DNFs = Augusto Fernandez (GASGASG Tech 3), Joan Mir (Repsol Honda)

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1st Pecco Bagnaia 366 points
2nd Jorge Martin 339 points
3rd Marco Bezzecchi 293 points
4th Brad Binder 224 points
5th Johann Zarco 187 points

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

MotoGP: Mayhem in Mandalika as Bagnaia Reclaims Championship Lead

A chaotic race in Indonesia has seen Pecco Bagnaia reclaim the championship lead that he lost after yesterday’s sprint race. Jorge Martin, his nearest rival, made a painful error which saw him crash out of the lead. With just 5 races left, this season is far from over!

It was both a costly error from Jorge Martin and a calculated ride from Pecco Bagnaia that has firmly placed today’s Indonesian GP in the history books. Having lost the championship lead for a day, Bagnaia was able to quickly reverse this as he sailed to a phenomenal victory. He made his way from 13th on the grid to win what might be the greatest race of his career.

Meanwhile, it was an undoubtedly difficult day for Martin. Having enjoyed all the momentum and accolades over the last few races, he crashed out of the lead at a crucial point in the season. The costly error came despite him sitting comfortably at the front of the field for the first 20 laps.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Bagnaia was joined on the podium by Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo who both enjoyed strong weekends but were frustrated to not finish higher after a close final few laps.

There was chaos up and down the field for most of the race, as we start our first of two triple-header weekends to round out the 2023 season.

AS IT HAPPENED

As the lights went out, Jorge Martin flew off the line and leapt from 6th to 1st before entering the first corner. It was a slower start for both Aprilia riders, as well as Luca Marini, who all slipped back down the field. This allowed both Brad Binder and Fabio Quartararo to make up some places on the first lap. However, Maverick Vinales was able to recover and slot in to 2nd.

There was chaos up and down the field across the opening laps of the race. This started with Aleix Espargaro going wide at turn 1. This let Pecco Bagnaia through but as Espargaro returned to the racing line, he nearly collected Marc Marquez.

Enea Bastianini also went wide, causing him to go off the track. He failed to rejoin in the correct way and was later given a long lap penalty as a result.

On lap 3, Binder gets out of shape at turn 10 and clatters in to the side of Marini, knocking him in to the gravel. Binder was just carrying too much speed in to the corner and wasn’t able to make it round. Like Bastianini, he also received a long lap penalty for this later on in the race.

On the same lap, Pol Espgargaro crashes at turn 15 and Franco Morbidelli heads in to the pits to retire.

Pecco Bagnaia and Aleix Espargaro then find themselves breezing past Quartararo to take 3rd and 4th respectively. Meanwhile the leading pair of Martin and Vinales were now 1.8 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

As Binder takes his long lap penalty on lap 6, he drops from 5th to 10th. Espargaro, in 4th, is all over the back of Bagnaia, in 3rd, and forcing the Italian to ride defensively.

On lap 8, Marc Marquez is quickly overtaken by Jack Miller, Marco Bezzecchi and Brad Binder, shuffling him back from 7th to 10th. A few corners later, he then crashes at turn 13. It has been a difficult weekend for the Spaniard who is undoubtedly counting down to his move to Gresini for 2024.

 

This then sparks a 4-way battle for 6th place, with Miguel Oliveira, Miller, Bezzecchi, and Binder in 6th to 9th respectively. Miller is the first to make a move on the final corner of lap 9, followed by Bezzecchi on the first corner of lap 10.

On the following lap, Binder attempts to then make a move on Oliveira but bumps in to the side of him, knocks off his wings, and then sends them both wide. They are both able to rejoin but lose places at a crucial point in the race. Binder will receive his second long lap penalty of the race for this harsh move.

On lap 12, Augusto Fernandez crashes, followed by Joan Mir on the following lap.

Moments later, our race leader then crashes at turn 11. The bike slides out from under him and he is left looking down at his Prima Pramac machine in utter disbelief.

Image Credit: MotoGP

This promotes Vinales to 1st, with a 1.2 second gap to Bagnaia in 2nd. Quartararo, after recently making a move on Espargaro, is now promoted to 3rd.

On lap 16, Johann Zarco also crashes, again at turn 11. This leaves just 14 riders out on the track.

Meanwhile, at the front, Quartararo is closing in on Bagnaia who, in turn, is closing in on Vinales. We thought the chaos had calmed down but these three had other ideas.

At this point in the race, it is clear to see who opted for soft tires and who played it safe with the hard tires. Those on softs begin dropping back down the field as their tires struggle with the heat and soaring temperatures.

After closing the gap significantly over 4 laps, it was on lap 20 when Bagnaia was finally able to take control at the front of the race. He breezed past Vinales to take 1st place away from him.

For the final 7 laps of the race, the leading trio kept the pressure on each other. So much so that, by the final lap, there was barely a hair’s width between them. However, neither Vinales or Quartararo could make a move and they were forced to settle for 2nd and 3rd respectively.

FULL RESULTS
1st Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
2nd Maverick Vinales Aprilia
3rd Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
4th Fabio Gi Giannantonio Gresini
5th Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
6th Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
7th Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
8th Enea Bastianini Ducati
9th Alex Rins LCR Honda
10th Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
11th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
12th Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
13th Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
14th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha

DNF = Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac), Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac), Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Tech 3), Joan Mir (Repsol Honda), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Luca Marini (Mooney VR46), Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Tech3).

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

MotoGP: Martin Wins Sprint Race in Indonesia, Giving Him The Championship Lead

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.

Image Credit: MotoGP

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.

Image Credit: MotoGP

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.

FULL RESULTS
1st Jorge Martin Prima Pramac
2nd Luca Marini Mooney VR46
3rd Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
4th Maverick Vinales Aprilia
5th Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
6th Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini
7th Enea Bastianini Ducati
8th Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
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
15th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha
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

MotoGP: Espargaro Takes the Double In Catalunya

After last year’s counting error that saw Aleix Espargaro celebrate too early and lose the victory, it was redemption day for the Aprilia rider as he finally claimed victory at his home race. Espargaro was riding high from victory in Saturday’s sprint race and pulled off nearly the exact same move to take the lead of the race with only 3 laps remaining.

Despite leading the first 20 laps of the race, Maverick Vinales came home in 2nd. However, it wasn’t a difficult result as he celebrated giving Aprilia their first ever 1-2 finish.

Jorge Martin rounded out the podium finishers, coming home in 3rd, after a positive day for the Pramac team.

The day was not without drama – an early red flag was waved after multiple riders crashed at turn 1. The domino-effect incident saw Enea Bastianini, Johann Zarco, Alex Marquez, Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio all in the gravel before completing a single corner.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Moments later, our reigning champion and current championship leader, Pecco Bagnaia faced a huge highside which left him stranded in the middle of the track. Brad Binder, unable to avoid him, scarily ran over the Italian’s legs and left him writhing around in pain.

Both Bagnaia and Bastianini were taken to hospital and post-race statements followed. Bagnaia has luckily escaped with very minor injuries and Bastianini suffered a fracture to his ankle and hand.

AS IT HAPPENED

As the lights went out at the start of the race, it was a good start for Pecco Bagnaia who was able remain at the front of the pack after starting on pole. However, it was a poor start for Aleix Espargaro who was quickly lost in the field and going backwards.

Enea Bastianini enjoyed a positive start but, as he made his way up the inside of turn 1, he crashed in to the side of Johann Zarco and caused a domino effect. Zarco then crashed in to Alex Marquez, who crashed in to Marco Bezzecchi, who crashed in to Fabio Di Giannantonio.

Whilst those riders were in the gravel at the outside of turn 1, Bagnaia faced an enormous highside and landed in the middle of the track. Brad Binder was unable to avoid the stranded champion and, in a scary moment, ran over Bagnaia’s legs.

The red flag was quickly waved and the amazing medical team were instantly on the scene. Bagnaia spent some time receiving treatment on the track, before being taken to the medical centre and then the local hospital. Bastianini was also injured and took a trip to the hospital for further checks.

Now, with just 23 laps to race, the riders made their way back on to the grid. Luckily, all other riders were able to make it back to the garages under their own steam which allowed them to rejoin the race when it restarted 20 minutes later. Only Bagnaia and Bastianini were missing.

As the lights went out for the second time, Espargaro had a much better start this time away and managed to lead the pack through a clean, drama-free first corner. It was also a positive start for Jorge Martin, who leapt from 5th to 3rd, and Jack Miller, who leapt from 12th to 5th.

However, but turn 2, his Aprilia teammate snatched away the lead and Vinales took over at the front of the pack. Martin’s positive race start continued as he made his way past Espargaro and in to 2nd.

Before lap 1 ended, Pol Espargaro was forced to retire with mechanical failure.

Meanwhile, his brother was trying to make moves to regain 2nd place from Martin. He was right on the tail of the Pramac rider but wasn’t able to make anything stick. That was until lap 3 when he pulled up the inside of Martin at turn 10. By turn 12, he had made his way past and was in 2nd place, chasing down his teammate in the lead. It wouldn’t be an easy task as Vinales set the fastest lap in response.

On lap 4, Miguel Oliveira made his way past Martin for 3rd, making in an Aprilia 1-2-3!

On the same lap, Binder was forced to retire with technical problems. It was suspected that he had laid down a lot of oil prior to the red flag so it seemed to be a persistent issue for his KTM.

Riders up and down the grid were now settling in to their race and Vinales was slowly pulling our a lead ahead of the chasing pack. By lap 5, he was 0.3 seconds ahead for Espargaro, who was in turn a further 0.5 seconds ahead of Oliveira.

There was action further down the grid with Augusto Fernandez battling with Marc Marquez for 10th place, and Alex Marquez battling with Jack Miller for 6th.

On lap 10, Oliveira lost out on a podium place to Martin, but was able to stay close on his tail. He clearly wasn’t giving up easily, having worked so hard in the early stages.

On the same lap, we had our third rieder retire with mechanical problems – this time is was Raul Fernandez who was limping to the pits after just enjoying a battle with Marc Marquez for 11th.

At the halfway point, with 12 laps completed, Vinales now had a 1.2 second lead over Espargaro, who then had a 2 second gap over Martin. It was at this point that Espargaro seemed to wake up and was suddenly chasing down his teammate at a rapid pace.

Image Credit: MotoGP

By lap 15, thanks to lapping faster than his teammate, Espargaro had now cut the gap down to 0.5 seconds. On lap 18, with just 6 laps to go, Espargaro was finally on his tail.

Espargaro waited patiently and, on lap 20, he came up alongside Vinales on the start-finish straight. The Aprilia pair almost came together at turn 1 and Vinales went wide. That instantly gave Espargaro the space he needed to check out at the front of the field. With only 3 laps left, there was nothing Vinales could do to close the gap.

It ended up being a comfortable victory for Espargaro who was already on a high from winning Saturday’s sprint race!

FULL RESULTS
1st Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
2nd Maverick Vinales Aprilia
3rd Jorge Martin Prima Pramac
4th Johann Zarco Prima Pramac
5th Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
6th Alex Marquez Gresini
7th Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
8th Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
9th Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Tech3
10th Rabio Di Giannantonio Gresini
11th Luca Marini Mooney VR46
12th Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
13th Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
14th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha
15th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
16th Iker Lecuona LCR Honda
17th Joan Mir Repsol Honda

DNF: Raul Fernadez (CryptoDATA RNF), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Tech3), Enea Bastianini (Ducati), Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati)

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1st Pecco Bagnaia 260 points
2nd Jorge Martin 210 points
3rd Marco Bezzecchi 189 points
4th Brad Binder 166 points
5th Aleix Espargaro 154 points

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

MotoGP: Home Hero Aleix Espargaro Wins Catalunya Sprint Race

Aleix Espargaro has taken his first sprint race win of the season in a fantastic and aggressive race from the Catalan rider. He took the lead of his home sprint race on lap 7 and quickly pulled out a comfortable lead, eventually crossing the line with a 2+ second lead over his nearest rival. He celebrated with a wheelie that lasted for the entire start-finish straight, soaking up the cheers from his adoring home crowd.

Despite starting on pole, Pecco Bagnaia was clearly thrilled with his silver medal – his 9th podium in 11 sprint races, showing he clearly relishes this new weekend structure! It was a hard-fought 2nd place – he put up a good defence against Espargaro, with some characteristic late-breaking, and then faced a challenge from Maverick Vinales.

Image Credit: MotoGP on Twitter

Despite coming achingly close to 2nd place, and getting up alongside Bagnaia a few times in the final laps, Vinales was forced to settle for 3rd place. He clearly tried everything in his wheelhouse but didn’t quite have enough to pass the championship leader.

Further back, it was a positive race for Marc Marquez who has struggled a lot this weekend. He started the race in 12th but was quickly up to 8th after a flying start off the line – it seemed the light rain and slippery conditions suited Marquez and he was able to capitalise on this in the early stages. He enjoyed a close battle in the latter stages of the race for 10th place, fighting with Alex Marquez, Luca Marini and Fabio Di Giannantonio.

It was a tricky day for Jack Miller, Joan Mir and both Yamaha riders, Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo. None of these riders were able to make waves in the field. Morbidelli and Miller crossed the line in 15th and 16th, a whopping 16s away from the race winner, with Quartararo coming home in 18th and Mir in 21st and last.

AS IT HAPPENED

Much like qualifying, the weather threatened to add significant chaos to the race – the rain began to fall during the warm up lap which forced the teams to rush to prepare the spare bikes with wet weather tires. However, it wasn’t quite wet enough for the riders to opt for these bikes and everyone lined up on the grid with their slick tires on.

As the lights went out, Pecco Bagnaia leapt in to a comfortable lead, with Maverick Vinales slotting in behind, in 2nd. Jorge Martin took 3rd after enjoying a flying start from 5th.

It was a great start also for Marco Bezzecchi, climbing from 10th to 5th, and Marc Marquez, leaping from 12th to 8th.

Despite a very strong qualifying session, Miguel Oliveira quickly undid all that hard work as he dropped back from 3rd to 7th in the early stages.

As the riders came to the end of the first lap, Aleix Espargaro came past his teammate to take 2nd away from Vinales. Bagnaia was quickly pulling out a comfortable lead and soon had a 0.5s gap over the chasing pack.

On lap 4, Pol Espargaro crashed after going wide at turn 5 – he made the sensible decision to lay the bike down before hitting the barrier and was able to walk away from the incident.

On the following lap, his brother Aleix was now close enough to Bagnaia to pull up alongside him. However, in classic Bagnaia fashion, he was so late on the breaks that Espargaro wasn’t able to get out of 2nd place.

At the halfway point in the race, we had Bagnaia leading, from Espargaro in 2nd, Vinales in 3rd, Brad Binder in 4th and Oliveira in 5th. There was then a 1.3s gap back to the next group, made up of Martin, Bezzecchi, Marc Marquez, Enea Bastianini and Johann Zarco in 6th to 10th respectively.

At the first corner of lap 7, Espargaro finally made his way past Bagnaia, much to the joy of his home crowd. Before the lap ended, he had already pulled out a 0.49s gap over the championship leader and looked to be quickly checking out at the front.

The race settled down for the final laps, with the only action coming from Vinales who was quickly catching up to Bagnaia. He spent the final two laps of the race right on Bagnaia’s tail but sadly wasn’t able to get past him like his teammate could. This battle eventually gave Espargaro a 2+ second lead as he crossed the line to take his first sprint race victory.

FULL RESULTS
1st Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
2nd Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
3rd Maverick Vinales Aprilia
4th Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
5th Jorge Martin Prima Pramac
6th Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
7th Johann Zarco Prima Pramac
8th Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
9th Enea Bastianini Ducati
10th Alex Marquez Gresini
11th Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
12th Luca Marini Mooney VR46
13th Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini
14th Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
15th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha
16th Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
17th Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Tech3
18th Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
19th Iker Lecuona LCR Honda
20th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
21st Joan Mir Repsol Honda

DNFs: Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Tech3)

Image Credit: MotoGP on Twitter

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

MotoGP: Bagnaia on pole for the Catalan GP

Our championship leader has smashed the lap record at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on his way to taking pole position before this weekend’s racing. It was a session with mixed conditions and some mixed results for riders up and down the grid.

Pecco Bagnaia has taken his 6th pole position of the season at the Catalan GP today. He smashed the previous lap record, laying down a storming time of 1:38.639.

He will be joined on the front row by Aleix Espargaro, in 2nd, and Miguel Oliveira, in 3rd. Many had tipped Espargaro for pole this weekend, but he lost time in the latter sectors and crossed the line just 0.104s behind pole position. Oliveira, who has also looked really fast this weekend, was a frustrating 0.005s away from Espargaro in 2nd.

It was a tricky day for Marc Marquez who, despite being promoted from Q1, had to settle for 12th overall. It was thanks to a tow from Jack Miller that Marquez made it through to Q2 – however, providing that two seemed to hold back Miller who was unable to make it through to the second qualifying session, despite showing good pace this weekend so far.

It was arguably a tougher day for the Yamaha team with Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo having to settle for 16th and 17th respectively. They have been well off the pace all weekend and struggling at the back of the grid.

AS IT HAPPENED

Qualifying 1

In the 15 minutes between FP2 and Qualifying 1, the weather changed quickly and the track went from bright sunshine to rain. The sessions therefore started with a damp track which meant riders were instantly out to set a banker lap.

We had some big names in this first session, including Jack Miller, Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira who have looked fast all weekend so far. It also included Luca Marini and both Yamaha riders who have struggled throughout this weekend.

With 3 minutes of the session done, we had half the track enjoying bright sunshine and the other half under rainfall. These mixed conditions meant the early laps were quite slow – Marini was the first to lay down a lap time but was way off the expected pace. Quartararo, on the other hand, seemed to revel in these mixed conditions and set the first relative lap time of 1:39.878. On his next lap, he was quickly improving and beat his previous time by 0.2s.

As Quartararo began his third flying lap, he went wide at turn 1. Whilst trying to keep the bike upright, we got stuck in the gravel and ended up falling in an embarrassing fashion. He was able to rejoin the field but wasn’t on the same pace as the rest of the field.

Halfway through the session and, as everyone made their way back in to the pits, we had Oliveira and Franco Morbidelli in the top two spots and provisionally going through to Qualifying 2.

As everyone came back out of to the grid for their final flying laps, Marquez was gifted a nice tow around the track by Miller. As they crossed the line, the pair were 1st and 2nd respectively.

However, with 2 minutes left on the clock, Oliveira bested them both to claim the top spot with a 1:38.789. As the seconds tick down, no one is able to improve on their current lap times – Marini was clearly struggling with the lack of grip, Espargaro bailed out of his final lap and Marquez went back to the pits before the session ended.

With no one else able to improve, it was Oliveira and Marquez who progress to Q2.

Qualifying 2

It was a quieter session this time as the weather settled down and the Spanish sunshine began to shine again.

Marc Marquez was the first to cross the line and laid down a lap time of 1:40.665. As everyone else began finishing their first flying laps, he was quickly shuffled down to 8th and Aleix Espargaro was on provisional pole.

The grid then shuffled around again as everyone completed their second flying laps. This time, Brad Binder took provisional pole before being beaten by Vinales. Espargaro was now in 3rd and Pecco Bagnaia in 4th.

We then had the typical lull in the middle of the session as everyone made their way back to the pits for a breather and fresh tires. There were 6 minutes on the clock when everyone came back out on to the grid.

We now had Espargaro, Bagnaia and Martin flying round the grid and, with 3 minutes remaining, Espargaro set the fastest lap of the day so far – a 1:38.752.

He was soon bested by championship leader, Bagnaia, who smashed the current lap record with a 1:38.639. As the minutes ticked down, no one was able to get close to this time. Espargaro was shuffled down to 2nd and Oliveira slotted in to 3rd. That was how the session ended with no one able to make waves.

FULL GRID
1st Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
2nd Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
3rd Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
4th Maverick Vinales Aprilia
5th Jorge Martin Prima Pramac
6th Johann Zarco Prima Pramac
7th Alex Marquez Gresini
8th Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini
9th Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
10th Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
11th Enea Bastianini Ducati
12th Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
13th Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
14th Pol Espargaro GASGAS Tech3
15th Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
16th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha
17th Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
18th Luca Marini Mooney VR46
19th Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Tech3
20th Joan Mir Repsol Honda
21st Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
22nd Iker Lecuona LCR Honda

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

MotoGP: Espargaro Wins Stunning British Grand Prix

There were times when it felt like we were watching a Moto3 race today at Silverstone – there was drama up and down the grid and 5 riders all in contention for the win when we reached the final lap.

Aleix Espargaro has won the British grand prix at Silverstone in stunning fashion. Despite starting the race in 12th, he quietly made his way up the field, capitalised on others crashing, and then found himself in the leading group of four. There was plenty of tussling and battling but he kept his eyes on race leader Pecco Bagnaia to then make a move on the final lap of the race.

Bagnaia ended the day in 2nd, despite looking pretty untouchable and dominant for much of the race.

In the early stages, the reigning champion had been battling with title rival, Marco Bezzecchi. However, the VR46 rider made a crucial error when chasing down Bagnaia and crashed out at turn 15 of lap 6.

The final podium position was taken by Brad Binder, who mastered the tricky weather conditions and used them to his advantage. As others tiptoed round the circuit, making cautious moves, he threw his KTM machine around on his way up to 3rd.

Binder enjoyed a lot of battles with Miguel Oliveira, who is back this weekend after taking some time out due to an injury. He was very close to the final podium spot as well as Maverick Vinales. The pair eventually came home 4th and 5th respectively.

As is becoming so normal now on race day, Jack Miller flew off the start line and was an early leader. However, he began to drop back a little bit and then, on lap 3, Vinales made an aggressive move up the inside as the pair were fighting for 4th. This move pushed Miller out wide and dropped him back to 14th. He eventually finished the day in 8th.

Rain started to fall on lap 13 of 20. Four riders opted to change bike and run the wet tires, including Fabio Di Giannantonio and Franco Morbidelli. However, the gamble didn’t pay off and they all finished at the back of the grid.

Joining them at the back as the checkered flag fell was Fabio Quartararo. But his day wasn’t as bad as it seemed. The Frenchman started the race from last on the grid and worked hard to get himself up to 8th. Whilst fighting with Luca Marini for 7th, the pair collided and he went down at turn 4. He lost much of the carbon fibre off the front of the bike but was able to keep going. He came in to the pits to change his bike and then ended the day 15th. A disappointing result for the Yamaha rider, but he did show glimpses of the old Fabio today.

There were further DNFs for Alex Marquez who retired with a technical failure on lap 5. It looked as though his gear linkage was broken as he limped his way back to the garage.

His brother, Marc Marquez, also failed to meet the checkered flag. He was battling with Enea Bastianini at Maggotts and Becketts when the two collided and both went down – it seems they were just making moves that were too risky when the track was greasy and wet.

Full Results
1st Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
2nd Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
3rd Brad Binder KTM
4th Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
5th Maverick Vinales Aprilia
6th Jorge Martin Prima Pramac
7th Luca Marini Mooney VR46
8th Jack Miller KTM
9th Johann Zarco Prima Pramac
10th Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
11th Augusto Fernandez GASGASG Tech3
12th Pol Espargaro GASGASG Tech3
13th Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini
14th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha
15th Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
16th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
17th Icer Lecuona LCR Honda

DNFs = Joan Mir (Repsol Honda), Alex Marquez (Gresini), Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Enea Bastianini (Ducati)

Championship Standings
1st Pecco Bagnaia 214 Points
2nd Jorge Martin 173 Points
3rd Marco Bezzecchi 167 Points
4th Brad Binder 131 Points
5th Johann Zarco 122 Point

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

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