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Italian MotoGP, Mugello Sprint Race | Bagnaia holds nerve to lead Ducati 1-2-3-4-5

Gold and Goose
Pecco Bagnaia, Ducati Lenovo Team, Ducati GP23, 2023 Italian MotoGP, Mugello, action, group, start [credit| - Gold and Goose]

Pecco Bagnaia kept his cool amid sustained pressure from Marco Bezzecchi and evolving weather conditions to collect his third Sprint Race win of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season at in the Italian MotoGP at Mugello.

In his first race on Italian soil since becoming MotoGP World Champion, Bagnaia started from pole position on the factory Ducati GP23 but was made to work hard by a rotation of his satellite stablemates in another occasionally frantic Sprint to the flag.

Behind Bagnaia, Marco Bezzecchi got to square up to his title rival properly for the first time but couldn't wrest the win off his countryman as he settled for second, while Jorge Martin collected another podium to inch further up the order himself.


With menacingly dark clouds looming overhead, the Italian MotoGP nonetheless got underway in dry conditions, with Bagnaia getting the hole-shot into Turn 1 from pole position, ahead of Marc Marquez.

>>> 2023 Italian MotoGP - ALL MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, MotoE Results <<<

However, while two of the three riders who started on the front row made it round safely, the same could not be said for the third after Alex Marquez was bumped off at Turn 1 by Brad Binder.

Sucked into the pack after a bad start, Marquez was caught out by the South African's attempt to carry momentum through the middle of Marquez to his left and Alex Rins to his right. However, when Marquez and Rins put the squeeze on him, Binder clipped the Gresini Ducati, sending him down.

Ironically, the incident was much like the reverse of Marquez and Binder's fracas at Le Mans, which the former will serve punishment for on Sunday by way of a three-place grid penalty. Binder was penalised too, but with a long lap penalty instead.

Before the end of the opening lap though, the conditions were beginning to change, with a smattering of rain coming down in the second-half of the lap. Causing a bit of havoc in the pack, some riders reacted with caution and others kept pushing, creating a messy concertina effect.

Nevertheless, Bagnaia led across the line for the first time, ahead of Marquez, Martin, Luca Marini - benefiting from having had his original fifth on the grid reinstated after an appeal - with Jack Miller fifth and Bezzecchi sixth,

By the time the field had funnelled through Turn 1 for the second time though, it was a Ducati 1-2 with Martin passing Marquez for second, while Miller was also through on Marini for fourth.

Coming round to the top end of the circuit at Scarperia, the rain - though localised to this part of the track - was heavier, prompting white flags to be deployed.


It caused a ripple among the riders, with Bagnaia visibly reacting enough to allow Martin to pounce and take the lead, while Miller ignored them altogether as hustled his KTM past the more cautious Marquez, briefly even holding second from Bagnaia.

As teams readied spare bikes with wet tyres in the pit-lane, the riders soldiered on but no sooner had the rain begun than it stopped again. As the weather improved, so did Bagnaia's speed, as he upped the pressure on Martin ahead.

Lining himself up for a pass on the Spaniard into Turn 1 on Lap 4, though the Pramac rider defended from his stablemate, his late braking sent him too wide on the exit, opening the door for his the defending champion to slice back though on the cut-back.

It would prove the pivotal moment for Bagnaia as he moved into a lead he wouldn't relinquish to the flag, despite coming under late pressure from nearest title rival Bezzecchi. The VR46 Ducati rider worked his way into second place, setting up a tantalising set piece between Ducati's #1 and his young rival playing out in the most fitting arena on the calendar.


>>> 2023 MotoGP World Championship standings <<<

In the end though, Bezzecchi could do nothing more than shadow Bagnaia, his best efforts not enough to prise open a gap on his friend-turned-rival. Settling for second across the line, it earns Bagnaia an extra three points over Bezzecchi, the gap between them now up to fourth points.

Martin held off the close attentions of Pramac Ducati team-mate Johann Zarco for third, while Marini battled through the pain barrier to complete the top five in a landmark result for Ducati at its local event.

Miller emerged as 'best of the rest', the Australian not endearing himself to Marc Marquez after shoving him wide and down the order with a robust pass on lap three. Nevertheless, the Repsol Honda rider regrouped to finish seventh, with Aleix Espargaro following in eighth.

The ninth and final point went to Enea Bastianini, the Italian clawing his way back up the order to record the first point of his injury-riddled season.

Elsewhere, there were no points on the Sprint Race board for Yamaha, though this was partly due to Fabio Quartararo being levered out of ninth place by a rude overtake from Binder, the South African pushing him wide and down the order.

Beyond Marquez, Alex Rins was also forced to retire after a crash in which he sustained a broken leg, according to his team LCR Honda.

Italian MotoGP, Mugello | Sprint Race Results

Saturday | Conditions - Warm, Overcast
2023 Italian MotoGP | Mugello, Italy | Sprint Race Results | Round 6 of 20
1Pecco BagnaiaITADucati Leonovo TeamDucati GP2311 Laps
2Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+0.369
3Jorge MartinESPPrima Pramac RacingDucati GP23+0.952
4Johann ZarcoFRAPrima Pramac RacingDucati GP23+1.009
5Luca MariniITAMooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+3.668
6Jack MillerAUSRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+3.772
7Marc MarquezESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+3.905
8Aleix EspargaroESPAprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+6.062
9Enea BastianiniITADucati Leonovo TeamDucati GP23+6.431
10Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+6.458
11Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+6.672
12Miguel OliveiraPORCryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP+7.930
13Maverick VinalesESPAprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+9.022
14Fabio di GiannantonioITAGresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22+11.508
15Michele PirroITAAruba RacingDucati GP23+14.344
16Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+16.666
17Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V+16.725
18Lorenzo SavadoriITAAprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+17.247
19Raul FernandezESPCryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP+21.596
20Augusto FernandezESPGasGas Factory Tech 3KTM RC16+35.212
21Jonas FolgerGERGasGas Factory Tech 3KTM RC16+46.189
DNFAlex RinsESPLCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V
DNFAlex MarquezESPGresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22
WJoan MirESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V

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