Bagnaia makes amends with Catalan GP win

Even the Abu Dhabi Auto Racing League

MotoGP World Champion Pico Bagnaia made amends for his drag racing accident by beating Jorge Martin at the Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Bagnaia took the lead off the line, but Martin and Pedro Acosta passed him in the opening laps and saw the duo create an early gap.

But as Acosta – one of the four riders in the field on a soft rear tire rather than a medium rear tire – attacked Martin and forced him to run at a medium-to-high pace of 1 minute 39 seconds, Bagnaia was running at a lower speed of 1 minute 40 seconds.

On lap 11 of 24, Acosta braked at Turn 10 while putting pressure on Martin, leaving the Pramac man more than a second behind.

But it never seemed enough, and Bagnaia slowly but surely chipped away at Martin's lead, arriving hard at the back by lap 17 and tackling Martin at Turn 5 – the same turn where Bagnaia crashed on Saturday – one lap later.

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

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

Along with Acosta, Marc Márquez was another rider who rolled the dice on a soft backdrop, and it largely held up, allowing the six-time champion another sprint through the field.

After starting from 14th, he spent the first laps tied up with Pramac Ducati's Franco Morbidelli, but was freed once Brad Binder raced back towards them, passing them both in quick succession.

He caught Trackhouse Aprilia's Raul Fernandez on the main straight in the closing stages, before also catching and passing pole man Aleix Espargaro.

While the soft rear appeared to have finally exploded at that stage, Márquez beat Espargaro by 0.052 seconds at the finish to maintain third place – marking his fourth consecutive podium finish from a grid position outside the top 12.

Espargaro, who again dropped from first to fifth at the start, had no response to the leader's pace this time even in clear air. The 34-year-old may be having his final MotoGP race at his home track in Barcelona, ​​given he has announced his retirement from full-time competition at the end of this year.

Fernandes, who went off the pace yesterday, was not competitive on Sunday but still drove his and Trackhouse's best race of the season in the 2023-spec Aprilia.

But he came just one lap away from repeating his career-best finish of fifth place, as Fabio Di Giannantonio, the VR46 Ducati team rider, passed him on the final lap.

Marquez's brother, Alex, was the third rider to bet on the soft rear, and also found it fairly effective, although he eventually slowed to seventh place.

Binder, one of the early front-runners, was eighth at the finish, his pace dropping early and never recovering when he stumbled up the order – although he still had a better race than his KTM teammate Jack Miller, who was literally stumbling.

Miller was fourth among the soft-tyre riders, and exited seventh early as one of the race's three retirements – the others being Tech3 Gas Gas rider Augusto Fernandez, who dropped from 14th, and Morbidelli, who fell to sixth.

Fabio Quartararo took ninth place for Yamaha, beating Trackhouse Aprilia's Miguel Oliveira on the final lap.

Quartararo's team-mate Alex Rins had started well at the front, but had to negotiate a long loop at the start, apparently to avoid a collision at Turn 1, and spent the race towards the back.

It was a very chaotic race for the second Aprilia of Maverick Vinales, who looked fresh in the warm-up but fell to 18th at the start and struggled to make progress – especially to make it last.

He ended up twelfth at the end, behind VR46 Ducati's Marco Pizzicchi.

After his crash, Acosta rallied and fought his way through the Hondas – the best of which was Team LCR's Takaaki Nakagami, who beat factory rider Joan Mir – to pick up three points for 13th place.

It was a horrific race for Bagnaia's Ducati team-mate, Enea Bastianini, who struggled to make progress, receiving a long penalty for crossing the track in a battle with the younger Marquez, failing to serve that properly, and failing to serve the resulting double-time penalty The lap was also assessed as time equivalent for overtaking at the end, eliminating him from ninth place in the points.


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