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Catalunya MotoGP, RACE | Espargaro doubles up after Bagnaia injured in Ducati disaster

Gold & Goose
Aleix Espargaro, Maverick Vinales, MotoGP race, Catalunya MotoGP, 3 September 2023

Aleix Espargaro secured his third MotoGP victory in five races as he completed a popular double success at his home Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, though his and Aprilia's celebrations were tempered by a huge accident for series leader Pecco Bagnaia.

Espargaro - cheered enthusiastically by the local crowd - got his head down to catch and pass team-mate Maverick Vinales late on to lead an Aprilia 1-2, while Jorge Martin was third to take a chunk out of Bagnaia's championship advantage.

In a race that could prove pivotal in this year's evolving championship fight, runaway leader Bagnaia crashed on the exit of Turn 2 after losing the rear-end of his Ducati GP23. Having successfully gotten the hole-shot into Turn 1, the Desmosedici stepped out through Turn 2 before the tyres bit down into a violent snap that flicked him into a high-side.


Coming down again right into the path of the entire field, remarkably - despite rotating as rivals dodged around him - Bagnaia’s upper body wasn’t struck by a bike. However, he didn’t escape entirely unharmed with an unsighted Brad Binder clipping his legs in the melee.

- 2023 MotoGP World Championship Standings -

As the race was halted, medical teams tended to the defending champion on track for a lengthy period before transferring him to the medical centre and on to hospital. Early indication suggests he has suffered a number of contusions, but no fractures.

While Bagnaia’s incident ultimately brought out the red flags, it wasn’t the only accident through the opening complex after a pile-up that eliminated another five of Ducati’s entries at Turn 1.

On a desperate day for the factory Ducati Team, it was Enea Bastianini that triggered the concertina effect across the right-hander when he tagged Johann Zarco, sending them both down and skittling Alex Marquez, Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio di Giannantonio in the process.

With the race red flagged anyway, four of the quintet would make it back for the start, the only absentee - along with Bagnaia - being Bastianini, who is reported to have non-displaced fracture of the medial malleolus in the left ankle as well as a fracture to the second metacarpal on his left hand.

Bagnaia’s absence promoted Aprilia into an effective 1-2-3 on the grid, though it was Jorge Martin that would beat the triumvirate of Espargaro, Vinales and Miguel Oliveira on the run down to Turn 1.

Nonetheless, after an uncustomary good getaway from the front row, Vinales quickly pounced on the Pramac Ducati rider into Turn 4 to claim a lead he’d comfortably control for the majority of the race.


Indeed, for long spells it appeared the Spaniard was well on course for a first win in Aprilia colours, particularly when Espargaro - who had worked his way into second position at the expense of Martin on lap three - made a mistake on lap 11 to swell the margin ahead to more than +1.5s.

However, spurred on by the a doting audience, it was local man Espargaro who'd manage his wilting tyres more effectively as the laps counted down during the second-half of the race, eventually getting onto the tail of the sister RS-GP with five laps remaining.

With his team-mate now within striking distance, Espargaro wasted no time in sizing Vinales up with a classic slipstream draft and late anchor move into Turn 1. Though Vinales attempted to tough it out on the outside of Espargaro through Turn 1, a brief brush between the pair would force him to bail out wide through the long lap penalty run-off to settle for second.

Going on to hold rank to the flag, Espargaro crossed the line for a popular second win of the weekend, making him the third rider - in addition to Bagnaia and Martin - to win both Sprint and full-length MotoGP races this season. 


Vinales’ wait for a first win as an Aprilia Racing rider continues as he completed his second podium of the season, while Martin denied the Italian firm a famous 1-2-3 after catching and re-passing Oliveira towards the mid-way stage.

Earning him a healthy 16-point wedge to consolidate his second position in the overall standings, it reduces the margin up ahead to the hobbled Bagnaia to 50 points, while also raising his advantage over Ducati counterpart Bezzecchi - who could only manage 12th - to 21 points.

Zarco was the best placed among those involved in first turn crash in fourth place, he too reeling and dipping through on Oliveira in during the latter stages, while Alex Marquez was another to dust himself off to get a solid sixth on the board at the restart.

After a dismal Saturday showing, Yamaha's 2022 Catalunya MotoGP winner Fabio Quartararo closed out the weekend with a positive run to seventh place, while Jack Miller flew the flag for KTM Factory Racing in eighth after Binder’s hopes of improving his title hopes were scuppered by technical issues on his KTM RC16.

Augusto Fernandez strengthened his chances of retaining his GasGas Factory Racing Tech3 machine for 2024 with a fourth top ten finish of the year in ninth, ahead of Ducati trio Fabio di Giannantonio, Luca Marini and a battered and bruised Bezzecchi.

Marc Marquez started brightly to run inside the top ten before slipping back as the race progressed, the six-time MotoGP World Champion nonetheless still the best placed Honda rider in 13th. Franco Morbidelli ensured both Yamahas scored in 14th, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami in 15th.

2023 Catalunya MotoGP | Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain | Race Results | Round 11 of 20
1Aleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP23 Laps
2Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+0.377
3Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP23+2.831
4Johann Zarco🇨🇵Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP23+4.867
5Miguel Oliveira🇵🇹CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP+7.529
6Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22+10.590
7Fabio Quartararo🇨🇵Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+10.821
8Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+10.880
9Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC16+12.889
10Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22+13.280
11Luca Marini🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+16,491
12Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+16.561
13Marc Marquez🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+21.616
14Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+23.108
15Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V+26.740
16Iker Lecuona🇪🇦LCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V+28.860
17Joan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+33.929
DNFRaul Fernandez🇪🇦CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP
DNFBrad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16
DNFPol Espargaro🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC16
DNSPecco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati TeamDucati GP23
DNSEnea Bastianini🇮🇹Ducati TeamDucati GP23

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