Jorge Martin has sliced Pecco Bagnaia’s lead in the 2023 MotoGP World Championship standings down to 18 points after claiming a dominant lights-to-flag Sprint Race victory in the Thailand MotoGP.
The title chaser reeled off his tenth victory of the season from pole position, the Prima Pramac Racing rider getting the jump on his rivals off the line before managing his advantage back to the competition throughout the 13-lap encounter.
By contrast, it was a tough start to the race weekend for Bagnaia, who paid the price for a sloppy opening couple of laps that had him down as low as ninth at one stage.
Though he’d pick up a couple of places and close the gap to the podium battle ahead of him, he’d run out of time to do any better than seventh.
After the disappointing outcome of his two most recent races, during which he led more laps than any other rider but scored just 11 points from a possible 50, Martin came into the Buriram Sprint Race with something to prove.
Getting half of the job done with a comfortable pole position in the morning, though Martin was unable to get one of his trademark rocketing starts off the line initially, he still grabbed the hole-shot from an opportunistic Luca Marini into Turn 1.
From here Martin wasn’t bothered thereafter, the Spaniard able to manage his advantage as Marini became preoccupied with the attentions of Brad Binder instead.
Indeed, Marini gamely withstood several laps of pressure from an advancing Binder, but would eventually yield the position to the South African on lap seven.
With five laps left to make in-roads on Martin, Binder got to work on trying to reel the Ducati in but would be forced to settle for the runners-up spot, just under a second shy of the lead.
Marini held on for third place, the Italian benefiting from an entertaining scrap behind him between Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro for third and fourth.
Espargaro had looked on course for the position before making a mistake at Turn 3 on the final lap, an error that allowed Marquez to shuffle past him on the exit. Though the Aprilia rider struck back into third at Turn 7, Marquez evoked memories of his last corner pass for victory on Fabio Quartararo back in 2019 to snatch fourth back within sight of the finish line.
Marco Bezzecchi all but bid farewell to what remained of his title hopes with a quiet run to sixth, despite repelling the late attentions of Bagnaia, who gallantly chopped down a deficit of almost two seconds to finish on the tail of the battle for fourth late on, but would be forced to settle for seventh.
Getting away from sixth place, Bagnaia’s tardy getaway was punished by both Marquez brothers behind him before an opportunistic Johann Zarco dumped him to ninth on lap two. However, when Zarco and Alex Marquez tripped over one another coming around the final corner on lap four, Bagnaia struck to get by both to move into seventh but would be left with too much to do to gain more than just three points for his title challenge.
Marquez and Zarco completed the points’ paying positions, with Jack Miller and Quartararo missing out in tenth and 11th.
In a race of low attrition, Australian MotoGP star Fabio di Giannantonio was forced into retirement with clutch problems, while Augusto Fernandez crashed out at Turn 12. Takaaki Nakagami was also a faller at the final corner but remounted to finish last, just behind a disgruntled Maverick Vinales, whose hope of points disappeared with a long lap penalty for track limit violations.
|2023 Thailand MotoGP | Chang International Circuit, Buriram | Sprint Race Results | Round 17 of 20|
|1||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||13 Laps|
|2||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+0.933|
|3||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+1.841|
|4||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+3.503|
|5||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+3.581|
|6||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||+4.029|
|7||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||+4.121|
|8||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||+6.727|
|9||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||+7.323|
|10||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+9.240|
|11||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+9.339|
|12||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||+10.356|
|13||Enea Bastianini||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||+12.312|
|14||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+15.390|
|15||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||+15.535|
|16||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||+15.644|
|17||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+17.753|
|18||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||+22.675|
|19||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||+37.584|
|DNF||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22|
|DNF||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16|
|W||Alex Rins||🇪🇦||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V|