until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Three leaders crash out in surreal Barcelona MotoGP sprint

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Home hero Aleix Espargaro took victory in a surreal MotoGP sprint at Barcelona, as three separate riders - including reigning champion Pecco Bagnaia - crashed out from the lead.

Bagnaia's crash came on Turn 5 on the last of the 12 laps, when he looked to have the race won.

Before that, Trackhouse Aprilia's Raul Fernandez and KTM's Brad Binder both appeared in a prime position to win, only to both fall.

Fernandez, who has never finished a MotoGP race higher than fifth, started third and fought off Binder for the position through Turn 2 on the opening lap - while poleman Aleix Espargaro got swallowed up by the pack.

Bagnaia's factory Ducati led instead, but Acosta overtook him at the first corner on the second lap, ceding position at Turn 5 and then repeating the move the following lap.

This time, however, Fernandez and Binder worked their way past Bagnaia, too, and Fernandez even lunged on Acosta at Turn 5 to take the lead.

He started to make a break for it, only to end up despondent on his knees in the gravel as he slid off at Turn 10, just as he flirted with taking his lead up to a second.

Immediately after Fernandez crashed out, Binder worked his way past Acosta at Turn 1 and started to clear off as Acosta and Bagnaia kept each other busy.

But he then fell off suddenly at Turn 5, opening the door for Bagnaia to take his first MotoGP sprint win since Austria last August.

Yet it wasn't to be. Acosta was soon overhauled by Espargaro, too, but the Aprilia man could not make significant inroads on Bagnaia and looked to have settled for second, only to suddenly inherit the win on the final lap.

Nine tenths of a second behind him, Marc Marquez completed a charge from 14th to second by picking off Acosta on the final lap, with the rookie - who turns 20 today - settling for third place.

That was despite Marquez riding with part of his Gresini Ducati's front aero missing after first-corner contact with Jack Miller.

Jorge Martin had a middling race but salvaged an invaluable fourth place from it, giving him a 37-point lead over his nearest championship rival Marquez.

Enea Bastianini followed Martin home in fifth, with Fabio Di Giannantonio shrugging off a terrible start to take sixth and Miller seventh for KTM.

Maverick Vinales, who has looked a pale imitation of himself from recent rounds at Barcelona, did at least rescue an eighth place close behind Miller, with Marco Bezzecchi completing the points-scoring top nine for VR46 Ducati.

In addition to the three leaders crashing out, there was a fall for Fernandez's Trackhouse Aprilia team-mate Miguel Oliveira from seventh place and for LCR Honda's Johann Zarco - who had a moment and got hit by Gresini Ducati's Alex Marquez.

The younger Marquez himself had been fighting through from the back after being punted off-track by Franco Morbidelli on the opening lap - for which Pramac Ducati rider Morbidelli received a long-lap penalty.

Sprint Results

1Aleix Espargaró
2Marc Marquez
3Pedro Acosta
4Jorge Martin
5Enea Bastianini
6Fabio Di Giannantonio
7Jack Miller
8Maverick Viñales
9Marco Bezzecchi
10Fabio Quartararo
11Franco Morbidelli
12Alex Rins
13Takaaki Nakagami
14Alex Marquez
15Joan Mir
16Luca Marini
17Augusto Fernandez
18Stefan Bradl
Francesco Bagnaia
Miguel Oliveira
Johann Zarco
Brad Binder
Raul Fernandez
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