Di Giannantonio beats Bagnaia to Qatar GP win
Monday 20th November, 2023 - 5:06am
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
|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|
|DNF||27||Iker LECUONA||ESP||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda|
Race winner: 22 laps
|12||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||ITA||134|