Jorge Martin nibbled more points away from Pecco Bagnaia’s MotoGP World Championship lead as he dashed clear for a comfortable victory in the Indian MotoGP Sprint Race at the Buddh International Circuit.
The Spaniard never looked troubled after getting the hole-shot over pole sitter Marco Bezzecchi into Turn 1, Martin quickly taking a hold of the race while his Ducati stablemate was sent off course after contact from his VR46 Ducati team-mate Luca Marini.
Pecco Bagnaia kept the damage to his overall lead to a minimum in second, while Marc Marquez held onto third for his first top three finish since the very first Sprint Race of the year at Portimao.
A race already shortened due to the sweltering conditions, in the end it was a sudden heavy downpour of rain mid-way through the Moto3 qualifying session that would push the start of the Sprint Race back by almost three hours.
Prompting a reconnaissance session by riders, it was decided to wait longer to allow for the circuit to dry entirely before getting underway in early evening conditions.
Once they did, it was Martin in the middle who’d get away best of the three Ducatis on the front row, dipping into Turn 1 with an advantage he’d ultimately hold to the chequered flag.
A corner that has proven problematic under braking for riders all weekend, it was perhaps inevitable there would be drama coming into the right-hander for the first time. And so it proved, the culprit this time being Marini, who’d brake too late and clatter into the rear of team-mate Bezzecchi’s Ducati, slapping the former to the asphalt and the latter trundling out wide and down to last place.
It wasn’t the only early skirmish at Turn 1 with Stefan Bradl committing a similar offence by clipping the rear of Augusto Fernandez’s GasGas Tech3, only to then ricochet and take down the other RC16 of Pol Espargaro.
Back at the front, Martin headed up Bagnaia and Joan Mir, the Spaniard - fresh from his best starting position of the season in fifth - going with the lead Ducati pair until Marc Marquez bullied his way through by the end of the opening lap.
It was a top three that would remain static throughout the 11 lap Sprint, Martin steadily pulling out a comfortable margin over Bagnaia before easing off towards the end and crossing the line +1.3s ahead.
A sixth ‘first on the road’ win for Martin this season - as well as his third in succession - though the close proximity of the ever-consistent Bagnaia in second means the margin between the pair has only shrunk to 33 points, it was another emphatic show of strength from the burgeoning contender.
Behind Bagnaia, Marquez made a welcome return to the top three with a solid run to third place, his best result since the opening race of the year in Portugal. On a weekend that has seen Repsol Honda take a step forward in competitiveness, alas it wouldn’t be a double celebration for the team after Mir - having dropped to eighth after a mistake at Turn 1 on lap four - then dropped the RC213V entirely at the slow Turn 3 hairpin.
His demise elevated Brad Binder into a fine fourth from 12th on the grid, the South African making all of his headway at the beginning on the fast-starting KTM.
He was able to scamper across the line before a rapid Bezzecchi, who put in a storming ride from being a long way last after his Turn 1 fracas, to scythe his way up the order over the remaining ten laps. Faster than anyone else on the track, including Martin, despite having to pick his way up the order, the Italian softened the damage to his title hopes to bring it home in fifth.
After falling victim to Bezzecchi on the final lap, Fabio Quartararo was made to settle for sixth, while Jack Miller, Maverick Vinales and Raul Fernandez collected the final points’ paying positions in seventh, eighth and ninth.
Elsewhere, Aleix Espargaro was a high profile retirement in a fall after having already dropped to the back of the order after a mistake, while Johann Zarco’s afternoon also ended early with slow speed low-side at Turn 3 on lap six.
|2023 Indian MotoGP | Buddh International Circuit, India | Sprint Race Results | Round 13 of 20|
|1||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||11 Laps|
|2||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||+1.389|
|3||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+2.405|
|4||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+2.904|
|5||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+3.266|
|6||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+4.327|
|7||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+7.172|
|8||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+8.798|
|9||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+10.530|
|10||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||+10.826|
|11||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+11.456|
|12||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+15.415|
|13||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||+17.437|
|14||Michele Pirro||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||+23.714|
|15||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+36.468|
|DNF||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23|
|DNF||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP|
|DNF||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V|
|DNF||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16|
|DNF||Stefan Bradl||🇩🇪||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V|
|DNF||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22|
|W||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22|