until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Bagnaia makes amends with Catalan GP win

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Reigning MotoGP world champion Pecco Bagnaia made amends for his sprint race crash by defeating Jorge Martin in the Catalan Grand Prix at Barcelona.

Bagnaia took the lead off the line, but was overtaken by Martin and Pedro Acosta in the early laps and watched the pair establish an early gap.

But as Acosta - one of the four riders in the field on a soft rear tyre instead of a medium rear - harried Martin and forced him to run a mid-to-high-1m39s pace, Bagnaia paced himself in the low-1m40s.

On the 11th lap of 24, Acosta fell off braking for Turn 10 while putting the pressure on Martin, leaving the Pramac man with a lead of over a second.

But it never looked enough, and Bagnaia slowly but surely eroded Martin's lead, arriving firmly to the back of him by lap 17 and dealing with Martin at Turn 5 - the same corner where Bagnaia had crashed on Saturday - a lap later.

Martin had no pace to respond after that, hovering around a second behind Bagnaia before fully accepting second place and finishing 1.7s off.

But it means he now leaves Barcelona with a 39-point lead - with a maximum of 37 available in a race weekend - over second-placed Bagnaia.

Alongside Acosta, Marc Marquez was another rider to roll the dice on a soft rear, and it largely held up, enabling another charge through the field for the six-time champion.

Having started 14th, he spent the early laps constrained by Pramac Ducati's Franco Morbidelli, but was released once Brad Binder came back towards them, overtaking them both in quick succession.

He gobbled up Trackhouse Aprilia's Raul Fernandez on the main straight in the closing stages, before also catching and passing poleman Aleix Espargaro.

And while the soft rear did seem to finally go off at that point, Marquez fought off Espargaro by 0.052s at the finish to preserve the top-three finish - marking his fourth successive podium from a grid position outside of the top 12.

Espargaro, who once again dropped from first to fifth at the start, had no answer to the leaders' pace this time even in clean air. The 34-year-old may have been contesting his final MotoGP race at his home Barcelona track, given he's announced he's retiring from full-time competition at the end of this year.

Fernandez, who crashed out from the lead yesterday, was not as competitive on Sunday but still rode his and Trackhouse's best race of the season on the 2023-spec Aprilia.

But he came up just one lap short of repeating his career-best finish of fifth, overtaken by VR46 Ducati's Fabio Di Giannantonio on the final lap.

Marquez's brother Alex was the third rider gambling on the soft rear, and likewise found it fairly effective, though he slowed towards the end to finish seventh.

Binder, one of the frontrunners in the early going, was a dispiriting eighth in the end, his pace dropping early and never really recovering as he tumbled down the order - though he still had a better race than KTM team-mate Jack Miller, whose tumble was a literal one.

The fourth of the soft-tyre runners, Miller fell out of seventh early on as one of the race's three retirements - the others being Tech3 Gas Gas rider Augusto Fernandez, down from 14th, and Morbidelli, falling off when sixth.

Fabio Quartararo salvaged a superb ninth for Yamaha, beating Trackhouse Aprilia's Miguel Oliveira on the final lap.

Quartararo's team-mate Alex Rins had started well ahead, but had to go through the long-lap loop at the start, seemingly to avoid a Turn 1 collision, and spent the race towards the back.

It was a deeply messy race for the second works Aprilia of Maverick Vinales, who had looked rejuvenated in the warm-up but dropped to 18th at the start and struggled to make progress - and particularly to make it last.

He ended up 12th at the finish, behind VR46 Ducati's Marco Bezzecchi.

After crashing, Acosta remounted and scythed his way past the Hondas - the best of which was LCR's Takaaki Nakagami, fighting off factory rider Joan Mir - to pick up three points for 13th.

It was a horrific race for Bagnaia's Ducati team-mate Enea Bastianini, who struggled to make progress, received a long-lap penalty for cutting the track in battle with the younger Marquez, failed to serve that appropriately, failed to serve the resulting double long-lap penalty as well and was assessed the time equivalent of a drive-through at the finish, dropping him from ninth out of the points.

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