Bagnaia wins first ever MotoGP Sprint race at Portimao
Sunday 26th March, 2023 - 2:59am
2022 World Champion Francesco Bagnaia has started the 2023 MotoGP season with victory in the category’s first ever Sprint race, in Portugal.
The Ducati Team rider led Pramac’s Jorge Martin, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, and Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller to the chequered flag after 12 thrilling laps at Portimao, while Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo finished 10th, one position outside the points.
Of 21 starters, only 16 made it to the finish, with Joan Mir (Repsol Honda) and Enea Bastianini (Ducati Team) among the retirements.
Marc Marquez had taken a shock pole position earlier in the day and duly led the field through the opening corners, from Bagnaia, Martin (Ducati), and Bastianini, the latter of whom had challenged for second despite qualifying sixth.
Quartararo had qualified a lowly 11th and had already dropped to 14th when he lost another five positions due to contact with Mir, who crashed while trying to make a pass at Turn 13 in an incident which will be reviewed post-race.
Bagnaia and Martin stormed past Marquez as they opened up the throttle at the end of Lap 1, before Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia) passed Bastianini at Turn 4.
However, that slowed both and Miller took the opportunity to jump them, rising from sixth to fourth himself.
Bastianini made little more progress, taken out two corners later by Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati) in another incident which will be looked at by stewards after the fact.
UPDATE: No further action on that incident
Martin overtook Bagnaia for the lead as they negotiated Turn 1 on Lap 4, and Miller did likewise to Marquez for third position another lap later, with Oliveira following him past the #93 Honda.
Unlike those around him, Miller was on the soft Michelin front tyre and he used it to his advantage when he outbraked Bagnaia for second place at the Turn 5 hairpin on Lap 6.
The KTM rider was in front of everyone when he passed Martin on Lap 7 at Turn 13, although the Pramac man reclaimed the lead on the next lap at Turn 1.
At the start of Lap 10, Bagnaia also got back ahead of Miller, and ‘Jackass’ came under attack again at the start of Lap 11, with Oliveira throwing his Aprilia down the inside but taking both wide and opening the door for Marquez to get back up to third spot.
On the 12th and final lap, Martin ran wide at Turn 5 and that was all the invitation which Bagnaia needed to ride past his Ducati stablemate, while Oliveira’s effort to re-pass Marquez for third at Turn 3 was wasted when he then went and ran off at Turn 11.
Bagnaia therefore took victory, from Martin and Marquez, with Miller fourth after prevailing in a battle with Maverick Viñales on the first of the Aprilia Racing entries.
Viñales had also nearly traded paint with team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who ended up sixth, ahead of Oliveira, Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), and Alex Marquez (Gresini Ducati).
Quartararo recovered to 10th by the finish but will get no reward for his toil, with Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia) 11th, from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), Alex Rins (LCR Honda), Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati).
Joining Bastianini, Mir, and Marini as DNFs were Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati) and rookie Augusto Fernandez (GasGas Tech3), both of whom crashed out early on.
Bagnaia now leads the championship by three points, but it will be Marquez on pole again when the Grand Prix race takes place on Monday at 00:00 AEDT.
Race results: Sprint race
|1||1||Francesco BAGNAIA||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||19:52.862|
|2||89||Jorge MARTIN||ESP||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati||+0.307|
|3||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+1.517|
|4||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+1.603|
|5||12||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||+1.854|
|6||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||+2.106|
|7||88||Miguel OLIVEIRA||POR||CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia||+2.940|
|8||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati||+5.595|
|9||73||Alex MARQUEZ||ESP||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||+5.711|
|10||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+5.924|
|11||25||Raul FERNANDEZ||ESP||CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia||+8.160|
|12||33||Brad BINDER||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+8.384|
|13||42||Alex RINS||ESP||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||+11.288|
|14||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+17.138|
|15||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+18.128|
|16||49||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||ITA||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||+21.235|
|DNF||72||Marco BEZZECCHI||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||+10 laps|
|DNF||23||Enea BASTIANINI||ITA||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||+11 laps|
|DNF||10||Luca MARINI||ITA||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||+11 laps|
|DNF||36||Joan MIR||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda|
|DNF||37||Augusto FERNANDEZ||ESP||GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3||KTM|
Race winner: 12 laps
|16||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||ITA||0|
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