Alex Marquez has secured his second win of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship campaign after getting the better of title rivals Jorge Martin and Pecco Bagnaia to lead home a Ducati 1-2-3-4 in the Malaysian MotoGP Sprint at Sepang.
The Spaniard eased clear to victory after taking the lead at the half-way mark before putting air between himself and the chasing pack for his second Saturday success of the season, his first in the dry.
He led home Martin in second position, the Pramac Ducati rider clawing back more precious points from third place Bagnaia in the fight for this year’s title to reduce the margin up ahead to just 11 points with five races of the season remaining.
Returning to the scene of his 2018 Moto2 crowning moment, Marquez proved again how far he has come since those progressive days after making a strong start from the second row to slot in behind Bagnaia, the pole man getting the hole shot off the line.
Latching onto the defending champion straight away, the Gresini Ducati man initially scoped Bagnaia out with two failed attempts at the end of lap two and the start of lap three.
He’d eventually get the move done decisively on the run down to the Turn 8 hairpin, Marquez nosing ahead decisively for a lead he’d protect to the chequered flag, some +1.5s clear of the opposition.
Behind him, Martin made the most of an unsettled Bagnaia to pounce for second just moments later at Turn 14, leaving the Ducati Lenovo Team rider to spend the remainder of the race followed by team-mate Enea Bastianini.
Bagnaia minimised the damage to his advantage by clicking off a third place finish, helped in part by team-mate Enea Bastianini shadowing him to the finish line.
Twelve months on from their epic battle for victory in Malaysia, Bastianini looked back on form in what has been a torrid year spoiled by injury woes as he consolidated a front row start into fighting for the podium.
Unlike last year though, the Italian appeared compelled to restrain himself from making a lunge at the title contender and instead played rear-gunner for what remains his best result of the season thus far.
Brad Binder proved best of the rest in fifth place, the South African making gains in the closing stages but falling just short of penetrating the Ducati stronghold ahead to take fifth, while Jack Miller returned to the top six behind his KTM team-mate.
They would prove the only variations in a top nine otherwise filled by Ducati, with Marco Bezzecchi, Johann Zarco and Luca Marini picking up the remaining points’ paying positions.
In a race of zero attrition, there was nonetheless frustration for Repsol Honda duo Marc Marquez and Joan Mir, the pair coming down in separate incidents, though both would remount to reach the flag in 21st and 23rd.
Meanwhile, WorldSBK Champion Alvaro Bautista enjoyed a solid return to MotoGP action - his first start in the premier class for five years - the Spaniard bringing it home safely on the Aruba.it Racing Ducati in 22nd.
|2023 Malaysian MotoGP | Sepang International Circuit | Race Results | Round 18 of 20|
|1||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||10 Laps|
|2||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+1.589|
|3||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||+3.034|
|4||Enea Bastianini||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||+3.242|
|5||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+3.310|
|6||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+4.318|
|7||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+5.307|
|8||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+5.501|
|9||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+6.420|
|10||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+7.241|
|11||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+8.775|
|12||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+9.995|
|13||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||+10.067|
|14||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+10.643|
|15||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+11.005|
|16||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+11.911|
|17||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+13.591|
|18||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+15.058|
|19||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||+16.015|
|20||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇦||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||+23.484|
|21||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+24.930|
|22||Alvaro Bautista||🇪🇦||Aruba Racing||Ducati GP23||+36.501|
|23||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+40.594|