Pecco Bagnaia has taken a potentially pivotal step towards the 2023 MotoGP World Championship title after breaking away to win an Austrian MotoGP Sprint Race defined by a dramatic Turn 1 pile-up.
The Italian capitalised on his pole position to snatch the lead into the first corner before easing out an advantage over Brad Binder to win a fourth Sprint Race of the season for Ducati.
However, the race was ultimately defined by an awkward first turn clash involving several riders and leading to early retirements for title contender Marco Bezzecchi, plus Miguel Oliveira and Johann Zarco.
Jorge Martin was the offending rider, the Spaniard - having made a good start from 12th on the grid - getting out of shape on the tight inside line for the almost 90-degree right-hander - and squeezing Oliveira to his left, which led to a domino effect of striking Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo, who clipped Bezzecchi, who then hit Zarco.
That forced the latter two riders, along with Oliveira, to come off their bikes, while Quartararo - who remarkably stayed on despite being swung over each side of his Yamaha by the impacts - Vinales and Enea Bastianini were heavily delayed.
Their exits punched a big hole in a lead pack headed by Bagnaia, with Binder giving chase but unable to keep his rival honest as he streamed clear for his eighth first-across-the-line success of 2023.
Binder settled for a lonely second place to toast news of his new two-year KTM contract, while Martin ground out a controversial third on the Pramac Ducati.
Indeed, while stewards might take a close look at his lap one incident, at the very least Martin has made an enemy of the VR46 Racing crew after also taking out Luca Marini in their fight for third at Turn 2, the contact forcing the Italian out of the race.
Behind him, Alex Marquez came through to fourth place for Gresini Ducati, ahead of Jack Miller, who ran third initially before fading to fifth.
Pol Espargaro made the most of the Turn 1 melee to take a strong sixth for GasGas Tech3 in only his second event of the season, holding off his brother Aleix Espargaro and front row starter Vinales, who after getting a terrible start, was also caught up in the lap one skirmish.
Franco Morbidelli picked up the final point after succeeding in his bout with Marc Marquez in ninth.
|2023 Austrian MotoGP | Spielberg, Austria | Sprint Race Results | Round 10 of 20|
|1||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||14 Laps|
|2||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+2.056|
|3||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+5.045|
|4||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||+8.252|
|5||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+11.365|
|6||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+11.816|
|7||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+11.960|
|8||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+11.984|
|9||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+13.634|
|10||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+14.435|
|11||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||+15.251|
|12||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+16.740|
|13||Enea Bastianini||🇮🇹||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||+18.825|
|14||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+19.536|
|15||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+22.321|
|16||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇦||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||+25.593|
|17||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+25.789|
|DNF||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23|
|DNF||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22|
|DNF||Lorenzo Savadori||🇮🇹||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP|
|DNF||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V|
|DNF||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22|
|DNF||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP|