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Qatar MotoGP Sprint Race: Jorge Martin muscles way to Lusail win from sparky di Giannantonio

Gold & Goose
Jorge Martin, Prima Pramac Racing, Ducati GP23, 2023 MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, Lusail, action [Gold & Goose]

Jorge Martin has halved the gap ahead to title rival Pecco Bagnaia in the standings after taking a timely eighth Sprint Race win of the season in the Qatar MotoGP at the Lusail International Circuit.

The Spaniard put in a determined performance to muscle his way to the front of the field by the half-way point before resisting a spirited challenge from Fabio di Giannantonio to take the flag by three tenths of a second.

Earning himself the full 12 points for his efforts, with Bagnaia unable to manage any better than fifth place, the margin between the pair has halved from 14 points to seven with three races of the season remaining.

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Having lost ground to his rival in Malaysia last weekend, Martin quickly showed he was in no mood to allow the Italian a chance to eke his advantage out further as he muscled his way past into Turn 1 at the start.

Though a wide moment further round the opening lap allowed both Bagnaia and Marc Marquez through ahead of him, Martin quickly recovered ground on lap two with another tight overtake - and some light contact - into Turn 10.

From here, Martin only had eyes on a front two comprising Luca Marini - who held his place from pole position to lead at the end of lap one - and Alex Marquez.

With the GP22-equipped duo pulling a gap on the chasing pack behind initially, eventually they’d be reeled in by Martin after two failed lunges for the lead by Marquez cost them time.

Indeed, after Marquez nosed ahead of Marini for the lead into Turn 1 on lap five, his wide exit would give Martin the opportunity to pounce for second on the Gresini rider. From here, Martin wasted no time in getting the better of Marini, relieving him of the lead with a neat pass into the final corner.

The Prima Pramac Ducati rider wouldn’t be headed again thereafter, even if he did come under pressure in the latter stages from a determined di Giannantonio.

Still seeking a ride for 2024 after being ousted by Marc Marquez at Gresini Racing, the Italian put himself front and centre of the shop window again despite losing ground at the start to drop from second to sixth on the opening lap.

However, an aggressive fight back through the Ducatis ahead of him would see him up to second by lap six before steadily reeling Martin in too.

Though he’d run out of time to make a play for the win, second place marks his best-ever MotoGP result, an improvement on the third he achieved in the Australian MotoGP last month.

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Despite missing out on the chance of a first win in MotoGP, Marini brought it home safely for third place, ahead of Alex Marquez, who had the measure of Bagnaia in fifth.

The defending champion never looked at ease on the factory Ducati as he came under attack from Martin and then di Giannantonio early on, falling off the back of the lead pack into a fifth place spot he’d hold to the flag.

Maverick Vinales emerged as the best of the non-Ducati riders in sixth place in an otherwise dismal race for the Aprilia quartet after Raul Fernandez slipped from running as high as eighth early on to take the flag in 14th, while Aleix Espargaro - already reeling from his FP2 fracas with Franco Morbidelli, which led to a grid penalty and fine - was eliminated with Miguel Oliveira in a collision on the opening lap.

Brad Binder upheld KTM honours in seventh place, albeit at the expense of Marc Marquez, whom he barged out of the points as he came through on lap three, while Fabio Quartararo made gains from 14th on the grid to take eighth on the Yamaha.

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In a fierce battle for the final points’ paying position in ninth, Augusto Fernandez came through for the single digit on the GasGas Tech3 KTM in ninth, leaving Johann Zarco, Marquez, Jack Miller and an out-of-sorts Marco Bezzecchi without any points in tenth down to 13th.

Qatar MotoGP, Lusail International Circuit - Sprint Race Results

2023 Qatar MotoGP - Lusail International Circuit - Sprint Race Results - Round 19 of 20
PosNameNatTeamMotorcycleGap
1Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP2311 Laps
2Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22+0.391
3Luca Marini🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+2.875
4Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22+3.370
5Francesco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP23+3.957
6Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+4.239
7Brad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+5.761
8Fabio Quartararo🇨🇵Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+6.454
9Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC16+8.285
10Johann Zarco🇨🇵Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP23+8.314
11Marc Marquez🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+9.596
12Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+10.173
13Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+10.646
14Raul Fernandez🇪🇦CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP+11.117
15Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+12.163
16Pol Espargaro🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC16+12.745
17Iker Lecuona🇪🇦LCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V+19.285
18Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V+26.238
19Joan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+28.446
20Enea Bastianini🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP23+35.553
DNFAleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP
DNFMiguel Oliveira🇵🇹CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP

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