MotoGP | Francesco Bagnaia holds off KTMs to take thrilling victory at the Spanish Grand Prix
Ducati Lenovo Team rider Francesco Bagnaia has won the Spanish Grand Prix this Sunday, after a nail-biting race that saw him battle with the KTM duo of Brad Binder and Jack Miller, to finish topping the MotoGP standings.
The Grand Prix was the first MotoGP race on its return to Europe and did not disappoint, with the result remaining completely open until the final corner. 2022 World Champion Bagnaia’s comeback was nothing short of heroic as he held off Binder to take the victory.
Although Bagnaia now has a 22-point lead in the Championship, Binder consolidated his position in third place, just 25 points behind Bagnaia. Meanwhile, Miller finished in third place, making it two KTM’s in the top three for both the Tissot Sprint and the Grand Prix.
The pressure was on from the start of the race as the KTM’s took to the front with Miller leading Binder and Martin (Prima Pramac Raing) through turn 1. However, Fabio Quarararo’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) nightmare start to the season continued as the Frenchman crashed out of the race at turn 2 after competing for the same inch of tarmac with Miguel Oliveira and Marco Bezzecchi.
The incident brought out the red flags as the air fence had gone down at turn 2. Whilst the necessary safety precautions were put in place, the grid prepared to reset and go again for the restart. Luckily for Quartararo, a medical check deemed him fit, and he returned to pitlane to recompose himself for a second chance with a long lap penalty to serve for irresponsible riding at turn 2.
Once again, the KTM’s took to the front after the restart, with Binder rolling around the outside of Miller to take the lead. With 21 laps to go, the KTM’s began to pull away from the Ducati’s of Bagnaia and Martin, stretching the gap out to just over half a second. Bagnaia then put the afterburners on to set the fastest lap of the race so far and bridge the gap to the leading duo.
Bagnaia wasted no time in getting past Miller, putting his factory Ducati in the tiniest of gaps at Pedrosa corner to sit up the KTM man and set his sights on Binder. One lap later, Miller fell victim to Martin as the Spaniard moved up into third place, demoting Miller to fourth. Miller quickly regained his position, making it a KTM one-two once again with Bagnaia now third and Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) looking menacing in fourth.
With 13 laps to go, Martin got back past Espargaro as his thirst to taste the champagne on home soil was yet to be quenched. The Spaniard had his sights set on Bagnaia, who was half a second up the road and sat in the final podium position. Meanwhile, Miller was coming under further pressure from Martin as his teammate Johann Zarco had crashed out of the Grand Prix just after getting the better of Espargaro on his charge up to fifth place.
Soon after, there was a significant twist in the Championship story as Championship Leader Bezzecchi crashed out of the Grand Prix, gifting the top spot to close friend Pecco Bagnaia. The battle for victory out the front was between the two men at the top of the MotoGP World Standings, and Bagnaia held off Binder to take the victory.
The Spanish Grand Prix was a thrilling race that kept fans on the edge of their seats until the very end. Bagnaia’s victory now puts him in a strong position in the Championship, but with no predicting the action in the 2023 MotoGP season, anything could happen in the next race.
See the Championship standings after the race in Jerez:
|15||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati||17|
MotoGP returns on May 13th, with the French GP, at the Le Mans circuit.