Bagnaia wins Indonesian GP after Martin crashes out
By Kyle White
Sunday 15th October, 2023 - 7:44pm
Francesco Bagnaia regained the lead of the MotoGP World Championship with victory in Indonesia after title rival Jorge Martin crashed out while leading.
Pramac Ducati’s Martin, who won his fourth straight Sprint race a day earlier at the Mandalika International Street Circuit, had blasted into the lead and opened a gap of almost three seconds at the halfway point when he went down at Turn 11.
Bagnaia grasped his opportunity to clinch a pivotal victory after starting from 13th place on the grid.
The Ducati Team rider held off Aprilia Racing’s Maverick Viñales for the win, who narrowly repelled Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo on the last lap to seal the runner-up spot.
Bagnaia’s victory from the fifth row represented the first time a rider had won a dry MotoGP race from outside the first four rows since Marco Melandri triumphed in the Turkish Grand Prix in 2006.
The 2022 world champion is now back on top in the title race by 18 points from Martin after 15 rounds.
Martin made a blistering start from the second row and powered into the lead ahead of Viñales with Quartararo third, while Bagnaia put a strong opening lap together to move up to sixth.
Brad Binder tagged pole man Luca Marini on Lap 2, causing the VR46 Ducati rider to crash out at Turn 10 and the Red Bull KTM rider to receive a Long Lap Penalty (LLP) for the incident.
Bagnaia made a pass on Quartararo for third and was just under two seconds back on Viñales in second.
Quartararo then ran wide, allowing Binder through to fourth. The South African served his LLP on Lap 6 as Marini retired in the pits.
A miserable weekend for Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was compounded when he crashed out at Turn 13.
Martin was 1.8s clear of Viñales, who in turn had a cushion of 1.4s over Bagnaia.
Binder was placed under investigation again after contact with RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira, who was forced wide off the track. The KTM rider received another LLP, which he served on Lap 17.
With Martin looking comfortable in the lead and almost three seconds in front of Viñales, the Spaniard dramatically slid off at Turn 13, leaving Viñales leading the race from Bagnaia by one second, with Quartararo 3.3s further adrift.
Bagnaia, now with a golden opportunity to reclaim the championship lead, began to reel in Viñales.
He quickly closed in on the Aprilia rider and took the lead on Lap 20 with a clinical overtake.
However, he was unable to break away and with three laps to go, Viñales was half a second behind with Quartararo now hauling himself into contention for the runner-up spot.
Bagnaia began to gain some breathing room on the penultimate lap as Viñales dug in to fend off Quartararo, who was piling on the pressure.
At the start of the final lap, Bagnaia was one second ahead but there was nothing between Viñales and Quartararo as they disputed second.
Viñales closed right onto Bagnaia’s rear wheel by the end of the lap but the Italian held on for a priceless victory, with Quartararo right behind in third as the trio were covered by 0.433s at the finish.
Fabio Di Giannantonio came through to claim fourth on the Gresini Ducati, 6.9s back.
Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati) finished fifth less than a week after breaking his collarbone in a training accident and undergoing surgery.
Binder was only a tenth of a second behind as he rounded out the top six despite the two Long Laps.
Aussie Jack Miller finished seventh on the second of the factory Red Bull KTM machines, narrowly ahead of the Ducati Team’s Enea Bastianini, who served a LLP in the race.
LCR Honda’s Alex Rins was ninth as he made a successful return this weekend at the second attempt following a long injury lay-off.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), who qualified on the front row, struggled throughout after running the soft rear tyre, going against Michelin’s advice following issues with blistering in the Sprint. Espargaro finished 10th ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda).
Oliveira, Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) were the final finishers as they completed the top 14.
Augusto Fernandez (GasGas Tech3), Joan Mir (Repsol Honda), Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) and Pol Espargaro (GasGas Tech3) were among the fallers.
Phillip Island in Australia hosts Round 16 next weekend.