Bastianini wins, Bagnaia scores crucial Malaysian GP podium
Sunday 12th November, 2023 - 6:44pm
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 (Aruba.it 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
|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||Aruba.it 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
|12||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||ITA||100|