The 2023 MotoGP Championship just turned into an all-out dog fight with three rounds to go, and the standings gap has tightened to a mere 13 points.
But how did this happen? The answer lies in pure magic as Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) pulled off an astonishing victory against formidable opponents Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in a nail-biting, gloves-off battle that left spectators on the edge of their seats.
The Grand Prix of Thailand in Buriram witnessed a showdown for the ages. Jorge Martin secured the top spot, while Binder crossed the line in second place but unfortunately exceeded track limits on the final lap, gifting Bagnaia those precious 20 points.
What’s more, this race goes down in history as the fourth closest premier class podium finish ever, with a mere 0.253-second gap.
From the get-go, the race was intense. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) initially snatched the lead from Martin, but the polesitter held his ground into Turn 1, making a daring move around the outside. Bagnaia, who started fast from sixth on the grid, quickly moved up to fourth.
The opening laps were marked by fierce competition, with Martin leading the way. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) overtook Marini for second place, and Binder, on a mission, made his move further back. He lunged past Bagnaia to claim fourth place, allowing Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing) to push the reigning champion down to sixth.
Martin didn’t establish a huge lead in the early stages, unlike his previous races. Instead, the leading group engaged in close battles. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) joined the fray, going wheel to wheel with Bagnaia. The two champions exchanged close passes as they fought for sixth place, until Bagnaia managed to pull away.
With 20 laps to go, the race briefly calmed down as Martin led the way with Binder shadowing him. Behind them, Alex Marquez held third, while Marini, Aleix Espargaro, Bagnaia, and Marc Marquez were in close pursuit. By the time there were 17 laps left, Bagnaia had clawed his way back to fourth place, closing in on Alex Marquez.
Bagnaia continued to make steady progress toward third place, but then the unexpected happened. Alex Marquez’s charge came to an end as he slid out, promoting Bagnaia to third. Ahead of him were a KTM and one more Ducati.
The battle intensified between Martin, Binder, and Bagnaia. Binder waited until the final seven laps to make his move, lunging past Martin but failing to make it stick. The two riders exchanged paintwork over the next lap, with Bagnaia, having caught up, closely observing.
Binder eventually managed to overtake Martin and took the lead with five laps to go. This time, he left no room for Martin to counterattack, turning up the pressure on the number 89.
The tension persisted right up to Turn 2 on the penultimate lap, where Martin regained the lead from Binder. Martin’s strategy for the final lap was clear: defend his position. As Bagnaia attempted to sweep past both riders in the penultimate corner, the final lap remained tense.
In a heart-pounding finale, Martin held his ground, with Binder relentlessly pursuing him. Bagnaia sought his own opening, but as the three riders charged into the final corner, there were no openings, no quarter given, and no mistakes made.
Jorge Martin emerged as the victor, withstanding an incredible amount of pressure to secure his fourth double of the season. Binder crossed the line in second place but fell victim to a track limits violation earlier on the final lap, pushing him down to third. Nevertheless, he now holds the record for the most premier class podiums by a South African rider, with nine podium finishes.
Bagnaia claimed 20 crucial points for second place, maintaining his lead by 13 points after demonstrating an unwavering competitive spirit throughout the race. The 2023 MotoGP Championship is shaping up to be an unforgettable battle, with fans eagerly anticipating the next thrilling rounds.
See the Championship standings after the race in Buriram:
MotoGP returns on November 12nd, with the Malaysian GP, at the Sepang Circuit.