Di Giannantonio beats Bagnaia to Qatar GP win

Fabio Di Giannantonio wins the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix. Image: Supplied

Fabio Di Giannantonio wins the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix. Image: Supplied

Francesco Bagnaia has extended his MotoGP world championship lead to 21 points despite Fabio Di Giannantonio’s late pass for victory in the Qatar Grand Prix.

Bagnaia led for most of the 22-lap contest around the Lusail International Circuit but finished almost three seconds behind first-time winner Di Giannantonio in second place after his bid to reclaim top spot on the night nearly ended in disaster.

It was something of a disaster for title rival Jorge Martin, who could only muster 10th and now faces an uphill battle to win the world championship with one round remaining in 2023.

The Ducati Team’s Bagnaia and Pramac Racing’s Martin had lined up alongside each other on Row 2 of the starting grid on their Desmosedicis but were quickly separated by seven positions.

Bagnaia jumped so well that he was able to pass pole-sitter Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati) into the first corner whereas Martin broke into big wheelspin when the lights went out and would drop to eighth.

Between them in second through seventh after the opening corners were Marini, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati), Alex Marquez (Gresini Ducati), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), respectively.

Behind Martin was Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) in ninth, from Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati), Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha), and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM).

Binder passed Marc Marquez for fifth at Turn 6 and Alex Marquez got through Di Giannantonio for third at Turn 12 on Lap 2.

Martin was making no inroads until both he and Viñales gained a position when Zarco ran wide at Turn 4 on Lap 3 and dropped from seventh to ninth.

Di Giannantonio reclaimed third place from team-mate Alex Marquez at Turn 6 on Lap 4 before Martin blazed past Marc Marquez and into sixth position up the main straight.

Di Giannantonio then slipped down the inside of Marini at Turn 6 on Lap 5, at which point Bagnaia was a handful of tenths ahead having threatened to break away.

Marini lost more positions on Lap 5 when Alex Marquez got by at Turn 12 and Binder followed.

The latter continued his progress when he overtook Alex Marquez for third at the start of Lap 6, but Martin was drifting, to more than two seconds behind fifth-placed Marini, and his situation continued to deteriorate.

Viñales got Marc Marquez for seventh at Turn 12 on Lap 9 and then relieved Martin of sixth when they rounded Turn 4 on Lap 11.

Martin lost sixth position to Marc Marquez two corners later, and while he reclaimed it exactly a lap later again, Quartararo followed him past the #93 Honda and then attacked.

While Marc Marquez continued to drop down the order, Quartararo wasted no time overtaking Martin for seventh, at Turn 10, and the #89 Ducati rider’s struggles did not end there.

He ran wide at Turn 1 on Lap 13 and Miller took the opportunity to pass the Spaniard for eighth position.

That meant Zarco was behind Martin, but even he tried to pass his Pramac team-mate at Turn 1 on Lap 15, although he ran wide and could not make the move stick.

Meanwhile, Marini was coming back into podium contention, passing Alex Marquez for fourth at his second attempt on Lap 16, at Turn 12, then going past Binder on Lap 17.

By then, the top two was five seconds up the road, and Di Giannantonio was right behind Bagnaia.

The Gresini pilot was given the ‘Mapping 8’ message on his dashboard, the code which then-Ducati Team rider Jorge Lorenzo received at Sepang in 2017, but, whether he saw it or not, he was not adhering to the instruction to leave the title contender alone.

Instead, Di Giannantonio – who still does not have a ride in 2024 – decided to overtake Bagnaia at Turn 12, taking the race lead for the first time, on Lap 19.

Bagnaia tried to quickly fight back but outbraked himself at the end of the main straight and nearly collected the #49 Ducati as he sailed off into the run-off area.

Fortunately, Marini was so far behind that ‘Pecco’ was able to resume in second place and that was where he remained for the balance of the contest.

That was how the podium ended up, while Viñales made his way to fourth in the closing stages, and Binder grabbed fifth when Alex Marquez ran wide at Turn 1 on Lap 19.

Quartararo finished seventh and Enea Bastianini (Ducati Team) climbed to eighth by the chequered flag, with Miller ninth.

On the final lap, Martin was struggling even to keep Marc Marquez at bay and stay in the top 10.

Zarco nearly took both of them out at Turn 10 but kept his #5 Ducati upright, and they would indeed take the chequered flag in 10th through 12th.

Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati) finished 13th, Joan Mir (Repsol Honda) took 14th, and Augusto Fernandez (GasGas Tech3) scored the final championship point.

The Valencia Grand Prix takes place next weekend (November 24-26).

Race results: Grand Prix race

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time/Gap
1 49 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO ITA Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 41:43.654
2 1 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +2.734
3 10 Luca MARINI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +4.408
4 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +4.488
5 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +7.246
6 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +7.620
7 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +7.828
8 23 Enea BASTIANINI ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +8.239
9 43 Jack MILLER AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +11.509
10 89 Jorge MARTIN ESP Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +14.819
11 93 Marc MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +14.964
12 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +17.431
13 72 Marco BEZZECCHI ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati +17.807
14 36 Joan MIR ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda +18.673
15 37 Augusto FERNANDEZ ESP GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +21.455
16 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +21.474
17 25 Raul FERNANDEZ ESP CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia +22.142
18 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +27.194
19 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda +27.740
DNF 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Aprilia +16 laps

Race winner: 22 laps

Riders’ championship

Pos Rider Nat Pts
1 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA 437
2 Jorge MARTIN ESP 416
4 Brad BINDER RSA 268
5 Johann ZARCO FRA 204
7 Luca MARINI ITA 194
8 Maverick VIÑALES ESP 192
10 Alex MARQUEZ ESP 165
11 Jack MILLER AUS 163
14 Marc MARQUEZ ESP 89
16 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR 76
17 Augusto FERNANDEZ ESP 71
18 Alex RINS ESP 54
19 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN 52
21 Dani PEDROSA ESP 32
22 Joan MIR ESP 26
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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