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Valencia MotoGP, Sprint Race: Martin wins, Bagnaia fifth to take MotoGP title to the wire

Gold & Goose

The 2023 MotoGP World Championship will be decided in the final race of the year after Jorge Martin strengthened his chances with a punchy Valencia MotoGP Sprint Race win, while Pecco Bagnaia was made to settle for fifth.

The Spaniard made the most of a strong start to gain the upper hand over Bagnaia early on before biding his time within a closely-matched front quartet to take control of the race with five laps remaining.

Holding firm to take the flag first on the Pramac Ducati for his 12th first-on-the-road success of 2023, the result whittles Bagnaia’s advantage at the head of the standings down to 14-points ahead of Sunday’s finale.


In a scrappy, boisterous 13-lap encounter typical of its ‘last week of school’ status for the MotoGP ‘fraternity’, the elbows were out from the very beginning as a pumped up Martin went on the attack and Bagnaia - no doubt conscious of having more to lose - favoured a more cautious approach.

It meant that while Bagnaia was the one to get the hole-shot into Turn 1 from the front row, it wasn’t long before rivals ganged back up on him, starting with an aggressive lunge by Maverick Vinales for the lead at Turn 2, before Martin got his turn with a ragged pass that cost them both momentum and positions to Brad Binder and Marc Marquez.

While Bagnaia would come back at Martin over the remainder of a frenetic opening lap, it was the Spaniard who’d shake out ahead in fourth entering lap two, leaving an unsettled Bagnaia fighting a rear-guard action in fifth place, ceding a plus-second gap to the lead group he couldn’t bridge before the flag.

Up at the front, pole man Vinales made for an early escape upon regaining the lead on lap one, the Aprilia Racing rider escaping the grappling going on behind him to open up a comfortable advantage initially.

However, once the squabbles were settled in favour Brad Binder, the KTM Factory Racing rider promptly made in-roads into Vinales’ lead, the South African taking the close-following Martin and Marc Marquez with him.

Onto Vinales’ tail by lap six, Binder immediately struck for the lead at Turn 4, only for his rival to return to the favour at Turn 5. Next time round, however, Binder got it right to pick up the baton out front.

Sensing his moment to push on as well, Martin quickly turned his attention to Vinales, albeit not before brushing off contact with Marquez after the Repsol Honda rider mis-judged a pass attempt at Turn 6, the two bikes swapping paint but staying upright.

Easing past Vinales on lap eight, Martin needed only a few corners more to ascend to first, a path smoothed by Binder running wide on the exit of Turn 10 and into 11.

With clear track in front of him, Martin pushed on, reeling off the remaining laps with Binder in his shadow but not in a position to reclaim the lead.


It allowed Martin to complete victory - his ninth Sprint Race success of 2023 - with Binder chasing him across the line as Marquez, in his first Valencia race finish since 2019, getting the better of a fading Vinales to pick up a morale boosting third for Repsol Honda.

Despite making up ground on the top three fight in the closing stages, Bagnaia was too preoccupied with the close-following Fabio di Giannantonio to attempt anything more than fifth.

It could have been much worse for Bagnaia, however, had he gotten caught up in a Fabio Quartararo’s crash right ahead of him. The Frenchman had just slinked up the inside of Bagnaia for fifth when he lost the front of his Yamaha M1 at Turn 6, Quartararo exiting stage right across the Ducati’s bow and into the gravel trap.

Behind di Giannantonio, Ducatis filled out the remaining points’ paying positions with Marco Bezzecchi in seventh, Alex Marquez eighth and Johann Zarco ninth.


2023 Valencia MotoGP, Circuit Ricardo Tormo - SPRINT RACE RESULTS

Saturday - Conditions: Dry, Sunny
2023 Valencia MotoGP - Circuit Ricardo Tormo - Sprint Race Results - Round 20 of 20
1Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP2313 Laps
2Brad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+0.190
3Marc Marquez🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+2.122
4Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+3.106
5Francesco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP23+4.253
6Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22+4.400
7Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+4.502
8Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP22+5.578
9Johann Zarco🇨🇵Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP23+5.910
10Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC16+6.095
11Raul Fernandez🇪🇦CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP+7.674
12Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+8.098
13Aleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP+9.513
14Luca Marini🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP22+10.887
15Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1+11.943
16Pol Espargaro🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC16+12.453
17Enea Bastianini🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP23+12.599
18Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V+13.787
19Alex Rins🇪🇦LCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V+20.378
20Lorenzo Savadori🇮🇹CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP+25.017
DNFFabio Quartararo🇨🇵Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M1
WJoan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V

CLICK HERE for full results from each Valencia MotoGP session

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