Bastianini wins, Bagnaia scores crucial Malaysian GP podium

Enea Bastianini won the Malaysian MotoGP Grand Prix race. Image: Ducati Corse

Enea Bastianini won the Malaysian MotoGP Grand Prix race. Image: Ducati Corse

Enea Bastianini has won the Malaysian Grand Prix while MotoGP championship-leading factory Ducati team-mate Francesco Bagnaia beat title rival Jorge Martin to the podium.

Bastianini exited the first corner in the lead of the race after Martin took Bagnaia wide, and that was where ‘La Bestia’ stayed for the remainder of the 20 laps around Sepang.

Sprint winner Alex Marquez scored second in similar fashion on a Gresini Racing Ducati, with the Ducati Team’s Bagnaia shaking off an early challenge from Martin to claim third, and 16 precious championship points.

With Martin only scoring 13 points by finishing fourth, the Pramac Racing rider now trails by 14 with two rounds remaining and 74 points left on the table.

Behind that all-Ducati top four was Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo in fifth.

Sixth went to Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati) and seventh to Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), while Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM) faded to eighth after running sixth for much of the race.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati) and Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati) rounded out the top 10.

Martin had looked to take the lead from pole-sitter Bagnaia when the field braked for the first corner but ran wide and took his key rival with him.

He fared worse of the two, however, emerging fifth once the field exited Turn 3, behind leader Bastianini (Ducati Team) from Alex Marquez, Bagnaia, and Bezzecchi.

Quartararo ran sixth but Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller was wasting no time behind one of the Yamahas, putting the move on the Frenchman at Turn 9.

Martin passed Bezzecchi for fourth at Turn 14 on the standing lap and then set the gunsights on Bagnaia.

He tried to put a move on the #1 Ducati at the same spot on Lap 3 but Bagnaia made the cutback on exit and clung on to third spot as they almost traded paint.

Martin had another crack on the next lap at Turn 4 but could not pull it up and Bagnaia swept back around the outside as they ran through Turn 5.

Meanwhile, the top two of Bastianini and Alex Marquez ran about 1.4s up the road while Joan Mir (Repsol Honda) and Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia), who were circulating in the middle of the pack, crashed out in separate incidents.

From there, the contest settled down, save for a crash for Aleix Esapargaro (Aprilia Racing) at Turn 9.

Bastianini had earned some breathing space relative to Alex Marquez and they still ran first and second at the halfway mark.

The latter was 1.5s clear of Bagnaia, who had himself pulled 1.5s clear of Martin, with that margin growing.

Bezzecchi continued to hold fifth at four seconds further back, with Miller sixth, just ahead of Quartararo, Di Giannantonio, and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), while Marini sat 10th.

On Lap 12, Bastianini was a full second up on Alex Marquez and Bagnaia had stretched his advantage over Martin beyond two full seconds.

Quartararo re-passed Miller for sixth at Turn 11 while Binder crashed out at Turn 12, meaning Morbidelli inherited ninth having just prised 10th position from Marini through the Turn 1/Turn 2/Turn 3 sequence.

Takaaki Nakagami crashed at Turn 9 on Lap 13 before Quartararo picked off a struggling Bezzecchi on Lap 15 when the Italian had a moment at the same corner.

Bastianini took a 1.9s gap over Alex Marquez into the final lap, with Bagnaia six seconds to the good relative to Martin.

When they reached the chequered flag, #23 sealed his first win for the factory Ducati Team by an official margin of 1.535s back to Alex Marquez.

Bagnaia was a further 2.027s adrift but had beaten Martin by 6.964s, with Quartararo almost as far back again in fifth.

Bezzecchi was sixth while Morbidelli got by Miller on the penultimate lap to take seventh.

Behind Di Giannantonio in ninth and Marini in 10th was Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), from Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Augusto Fernandez (GasGas Tech3), and Pol Espargaro (GasGas Tech3) in the final points-paying position.

Iker Lecuona (LCR Honda), Alvaro Bautista ( Ducati), and Nakagami were the non-points finishers.

Joining Binder, Aleix Espargaro, Oliveira, and Mir as DNFs was Raul Fernandez, who stopped with an apparent technical problem for his RNF Aprilia on Lap 7.

Earlier, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta clinched the Moto2 championship title by finishing second on the day at Sepang, to Fermin Aldeguer.

Acosta stays in the KTM fold when he moves up to the premier class next year at GasGas Tech3, where he will join 2022 Moto2 champion Augusto Fernandez as team-mate.

The Qatar Grand Prix takes place next weekend at Lusail.

Race results: Grand Prix race

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time/Gap
1 23 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 39:59.1370
2 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +1.535
3 1 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +3.562
4 89 Jorge MARTIN ESP Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +10.526
5 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +15.000
6 72 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +16.946
7 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +18.553
8 43 Jack MILLER AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +19.204
9 49 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +19.399
10 10 Luca MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +19.740
11 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +21.189
12 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +23.598
13 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +27.079
14 37 Augusto FERNANDEZ ESP GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +28.940
15 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +29.849
16 27 Iker LECUONA ESP LCR Honda Honda +50.960
17 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA ESP Racing Ducati +53.564
18 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda Honda +1:42.162
DNF 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +9 laps
DNF 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +12 laps
DNF 25 Raul FERNANDEZ ESP CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia +14 laps
DNF 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia +15 laps
DNF 36 Joan MIR ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +16 laps

Race winner: 20 laps

Riders’ championship

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA 412
2 Jorge MARTIN ESP 398
4 Brad BINDER RSA 254
5 Johann ZARCO FRA 200
7 Maverick VIÑALES ESP 175
8 Luca MARINI ITA 171
10 Jack MILLER AUS 156
11 Alex MARQUEZ ESP 149
14 Marc MARQUEZ ESP 84
16 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR 76
17 Augusto FERNANDEZ ESP 69
18 Alex RINS ESP 54
19 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN 52
21 Dani PEDROSA ESP 32
22 Joan MIR ESP 24
24 Lorenzo SAVADORI ITA 9
25 Jonas FOLGER GER 9
26 Stefan BRADL GER 8
27 Michele PIRRO ITA 5
28 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA 5
31 Alvaro BAUTISTA ESP 0

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