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: 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: Alex Marquez takes Magnificent Maiden Win at Silverstone Sprint Race

In typical British fashion, all we could talk about for most of today’s sprint race was the weather. It was unpredictable and difficult to master. But one man came out on top – and for the first time in his premier class career!

It was Alex Marquez who came out on top for today’s sprint race at the British GP. He started the race in 3rd, took the lead on lap 2, and never looked back. He faced a late charge from Marco Bezzecchi, who came home in 2nd, but he lead easily and took the checkered flag in dominant fashion.

The final podium spot was taken by Maverick Vinales, who was thrilled to squeeze a podium out of his Aprilia machine which, typically, doesn’t like these damp conditions.

Early race leaders, Jorge Martin and Jack Miller eventually came home in 6th and 7th respectively.

Further down the pack, it was a difficult day for reigning champion Pecco Bagnaia – he came home in 14th and scored no points, meaning his championship lead over Bezzecchi has been cut to 27 points.

It was an even tougher day for Marc Marquez, coming home in 18th and seemingly facing yet more issues on his Honda, and Fabio Quartararo who made no waves in the race at all – the Frenchman started the race last, in 22nd, and was only able to make up one place across the entire sprint race. A day to forget for both former champions.

The sprint races format, which is new for 2023 in this new era of MotoGP, has now given us 5 different winners across 9 different race weekends. The forecast for tomorrow’s main race is looking dry – can Alex Marquez replicate his win under those normal conditions?

As it happened

After a saturated free practice and qualifying session earlier in the day, the track was beginning to dry as the riders took to the grid for today’s sprint race. That left a lot of questions around tire selection and mid-race bike changes. As it turned out, every rider opted for medium wet tires and this seemed to be the ideal option as the rain would start falling before the race ended.

As the lights went out, Jack Miller and his KTM machine took an unsurprising early lead. He flew off the line and quickly got past polesitter Marco Bezzecchi. Bezzecchi put up an early fight but it was the Aussie who was clearly out in the lead by the end of the first few corners.

Further back down the pack, Pecco Bagnaia had a wobble and fell back from his starting position of 4th and in to a pack of squabbling riders. He was now back down in 12th after losing 8 places. Meanwhile, Marc Marquez and Enea Bastianini clashed in the opening few corners, causing a large gap to form right in the middle of the pack.

Miller wasn’t able to keep hold of the lead for long – after getting past Augusto Fernandez to take 3rd, Jorge Martin flew up the inside of both Bezzecchi in 2nd and Miller in 1st to steal the lead of the race at Stowe corner. It didn’t last for long though and the Prima Pramac rider soon lost out to Bezzecchi and Miller again.

It was on lap 2 that Alex Marquez took the lead. He first shoved his way up the inside of Bezzecchi and then, a few corners later, flew past Miller and into the lead. By the end of lap 3, Marquez had a 0.5 second lead over the rest of the pack.

On lap 4, Maverick iInales and Aleix Espargaro make their way past Martin, who has now been shuffled back to 6th. On the following lap, Vinales was now battling with Miller for the final podium position.

At the halfway point, with his brother leading the pack by 0.8 seconds, Marc Marquez was still struggling down in 14th and he could be seen looking over his shoulder, suggesting there might have been an issue with his bike.

The grid then began to settle in to the race and everything seemed to calm down. Aleix Espargaro took 4th away from Miller, and shortly after we had Martin closing in on the Aussie too. Further back down the grid and Fabio Giannantonio took 12th away from Bagnaia, before Bastianini followed suit.

On lap 8, we had spots of rain appearing at various points on the circuit and, on lap 9, Bezzecchi was squeezing everything out of his Mooney VR46 machine as he went on the hunt for Marquez and the race win. By the start of the final lap, the gap has dropped from just over a second down to 0.8 seconds. Then, in the first sector of the final lap, Bezzecchi took another 0.3 seconds off this gap. Sadly, in the end, Bezzecchi just ran out of road and came home 0.366s behind maiden premier class winner Alex Marquez.

Full Results
1st Alex Marquez Gresini
2nd Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
3rd Maverick Vinales Aprilia
4th Johan Zarco Prima Pramac
5th Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
6th Jorge Martin Prima Parmac
7th Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
8th Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Tech3
9th Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
10th Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
11th Luca Marini Mooney VR46
12th Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini
13th Enea Bastianini Ducati
14th Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
15th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha
16th Pol Espargaro GASGAS Tech3
17th Joan Mir Repsol Honda
18th Marc Marquez Repsol Honda
19th Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
20th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
21st Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
22nd Icer Lecuona LCR Honda
Championship Standings
1st Pecco Bagnaia 194 points
2nd Marco Bezzecchi 167 points
3rd Jorge Martin 163 points
4th Johann Zarco 115 points
5th Brad Binder 115 points

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP on Twitter

MotoGP: Bagnaia Cruises to Victory in Portugal

Our reigning MotoGP Champion, Pecco Bagnaia, has enjoyed a dream start to his 2023 season after taking a clean sweep in the first weekend of action. The Ducati rider has won Saturday’s Sprint Race before going on to dominate in Sunday’s Feature Race. He was joined on the podium by Maverick Vinales and Marco Bezzecchi.

After making history by winning MotoGP’s first ever Sprint Race on Saturday, Pecco Bagnaia has carried on his winning streak on Sunday, with victory at the Portuguese GP Feature Race. He took the lead on Lap 2 and, despite a good challenge from Maverick Vinales, he never looked back and took the chequered flag with a comfortable 0.68 second lead.

Our pole sitter, Marc Marquez, crashed out of the race on Lap 3. He made a huge mistake in the braking zone into Turn 3 and clipped the back of Jorge Martin, who was running in 3rd. As he went down, he clattered into the back of home hero Miguel Oliveira, running in 2nd, and brought him into the gravel with him. His injuries saw Oliveira stretched off track and taken to the medical centre – we are still waiting for an update on his condition. Martin was lucky to stay upright and rejoined the track in 16th, before crashing out of the race at Turn 2, on Lap 20 of 25.

Taking advantage of this drama was Maverick Vinales who carefully made his way through the incident and found himself up to 2nd, after starting 7th. He was quickly on the back of Bagnaia but didn’t quite have the pace to steal the lead from him. He ended the day in 2nd.

Marco Bezzecchi rounded out the podium spots with a well-earned 3rd place. He took 3rd from Jack Miller on Lap 6 but failed to close the gap on the leading pair. For much of the race, the battle for fourth was where the majority of the action was taking place, and Miller was a key part of this. He battled with Alex Marquez, Brad Binder, Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco for much of the race. However, on the final lap, Zarco bested all of them as he leap-frogged from 7th up to 4th with a late move. Alex Marquez, Binder and Miller were forced to settle with 5th, 6th and 7th respectively.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Fabio Quartararo had a difficult day starting in 10th, losing 5 places at the start and then fighting his way back up to end the race in 8th. He took that spot on the penultimate lap as Espargaro made a mistake that opened the door for the Frenchman.

With 6 riders failing to finish the race, all 14 finishers crossed the line to secure some points. Those non-finishers included Luca Marini who suffered his fourth crash of the weekend – a disappointing start to his season after such a consistent year in 2022 – as well as Fabio Di Giannantonio, who retired with mechanical issues on Lap 11, and Raul Fernandez, who crashed on the penultimate lap of the race.

After a perfect weekend, Bagnaia is sitting pretty at the top of the championship standings. Just behind him is Vinales, lagging behind by 12 points, and Bezzecchi, a further 9 points behind.

We only have to wait 7 days for the drama to continue, as the grid will be in action on the 1st and 2nd of April in Argentina.

Full Results:
1st Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo
2nd Maverick Viñales Aprilia
3rd Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
4th Johann Zarco Prima Pramac
5th Alex Marquez Gresini
6th Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
7th Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
8th Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha
9th Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
10th Alex Rins LCR Honda
11th Joan Mir Repsol Honda
12th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
13th Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Tech3
14th Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha
Championship Standings:
1st Pecco Bagnaia 37 points
2nd Maverick Vinales 25 points
3rd Marco Bezzecchi 16 point
4th Johann Zarco 15 points
5th Jack Miller 15 points

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

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