MOTOGP – SPRINT: Martin shines, Marquez charges to P2 as Bagnaia DNFs

Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) bounced back from Jerez in style at the Michelin® Grand Prix de France, getting an incredible launch from pole to take off and escape to his 12th Tissot Sprint win. Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) pulled off an awesome comeback to thread through to second from P13 on the grid, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) completing the Sprint podium. Where was reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team)? Read on…

It was a stunning start from Martin to take the holeshot, and the exact opposite for Bagnaia as he plummeted from second to mid-pack, seemingly with some sort of issue too. Meanwhile, some friendly-fire – within the limit – between the Aprilias added another shuffle, and with that, it was Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) slotting into second on the chase behind Martin.

Meanwhile, as Bagnaia went backwards, Marc Marquez was storming forwards. The number 93 threaded the needle to perfection off the start and was into fifth within a few corners. Within a few laps, the number #93 was the rider on the chase behind the Martin-Bezzecchi duel at the front.

Aleix Espargaro was then the next to drop out of that front battle as his start proved too good to be true, given a double Long Lap for the jump start. The drama then amped up again for Bagnaia just behind that, as he ran wide from the back of the field. Something was definitely wrong for the #1 as he then headed into the pitlane. The reigning Champion was out of the Sprint.

That left Martin leading Bezzecchi leading Marquez, with Viñales next up. A gaggle of Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team), Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) had the gloves off too, and Espargaro then rejoined in their midst.

Suddenly, there was more drama at the front. Yellow flashed across the run off at Turn 9 as Bezzecchi slid out from that second place, leaving Marquez on the chase behind Martin. The gap between the two was now at over two seconds, however, and the clock was counting down. The Sprint King was on his way to another Saturday stunner, and he got the job done in style to capitalise on a tough Sprint for Bagnaia.

Behind Martin’s impressive charge at the front, Marquez took second after an awesome comeback ride from P13 on the grid, with Viñales holding onto third in the last laps as Bastianini put in a late charge for glory. The ‘Beast’ had to settle for fourth.

Espargaro recovered from his double Long Lap to finish fifth, with Acosta taking a solid sixth and putting in a final corner save. Di Giannantonio held off Miller for seventh, with Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) taking the final point on Saturday… just marginally ahead of home hero Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™).

MOTOGP – RACE: Martin beats Marc Marquez and Bagnaia in an epic duel

It was an epic showdown at the Michelin® Grand Prix de France that gave everything you could ask for, with a titanic three-way battle deciding the victory. After a sensational pace throughout the race, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) stormed to win the French GP in front of a new all-time record at Le Mans with 297,471 fans watching the action unfold across the weekend. Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) secured an impressive second after passing Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) on the final lap of the race. Bagnaia could still stand on the podium, crossing the line in third and taking vital points after a disappointing Tissot Sprint.

Leading the way to start a historic French GP was Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team),  who had a stunning start – leaving Saturday’s issues behind. Martin tried to attack early on the opening lap, with Bagnaia proving why he is #1. Maverick Viñales made a mistake on the entry to turn three, dropping from third to sixth as Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) charged into fifth.

However, Acosta’s race soon came to a disappointing end, losing the front in an attempt to overtake Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) at turn eight. While Di Giannantonio was lucky the same could not be said about Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) who crashed at turn six, one lap later.

It was a two-way battle at the front, with Bagnaia going toe to toe with Martin. Meanwhile, there was a huge battle forming behind for the final position on the podium, as Di Giannantonio overtook Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) for third place. Espargaro later took to the escape road after the #41 was overtaken by Ducati Lenovo Team’s Enea Bastianini, who also ran wide which later handed the #23 a Long Lap for taking a shortcut.

Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) capitalised on a mistake from Viñales on lap 14, jumping the #93 to fourth to have his go at fighting with the top three riders. Marquez tried to overtake Di Giannantonio at turn three on lap 17 but was unable to make it work before making it stick one lap later. Meanwhile, further back it was a disastrous end to Fabio Quartararo’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) home race, who crashed out of sixth place.

It was a duel at the front between Bagnaia Martin with the latter stealing the race lead on lap 21, allowing Marc Marquez to catch the leading pair – sending the crowd to their feet. In the closing stages of the French GP, Martin made a small mistake and ran wide, allowing Bagnaia to latch onto the rear wheel once again.

It all came down to the final lap, inches between the top three, with Marc Marquez launching an attack to steal second position with half a lap remaining. This allowed Martin to storm to the line, to win an unbelievable French GP by 0.446s. Marc Marquez was jumping for joy with Bagnaia settling for third position in a race which will go down in the history books.

Behind the podium trio was Bastianini who showed great late race pace to secure fourth, after the ‘Beast’ managed to find a gap in Viñales armour, with the #12 crossing the line to round out the top five. Di Giannantonio was sixth after also completing a Long Lap, to finish ahead of the second Prima Pramac Racing machine of Franco Morbidelli, who crossed the line in seventh. After starting from the back of the grid, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was eighth after a super ride from the South African. Espargaro and Gresini Racing MotoGP™’s Alex Marquez took the final spot inside the top 10. While, further down the order, Johann Zarco (CASTROL Honda LCR) took a point-scoring finish at his home Grand Prix – finishing in 12th.

“Obviously I cannot be fully happy with today as I could have done a lot more, so I’m a little disappointed. We had the speed this weekend, but something didn’t go our way and surely that long-lap penalty did penalise us a lot. It all happened because I was in a rush to pass Aleix as I saw the others at the front were starting to push a bit harder. I didn’t make any calculation, I simply saw the chance and tried to take it. Problem is, as it happened on other occasions, I struggle to get the bike stopped when upright, so I ended up wide. I was ready to give the position back, but then I saw him off track and that made it impossible. In any case, I wasn’t expecting a long-lap penalty.”
Enea Bastianini – P4

Augusto Fernández

“My start was bad and we paid for that in the race. I had the soft tire so I thought I’d be better but these things can happen. It was a hard and tough race! Taking the positives of the weekend, it was the best GP for my feeling on the bike and we were more competitive, so I’m looking forward to Barcelona to keep this line and build up my confidence and speed.”
Augusto Fernández – P13

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