MOTOGP – SPRINT: Martin remains the king of the Sprints in Qatar

Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Ducati) took the first Tissot Sprint win of the season, also bagging the first 12 points of the season at the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar. The Spaniard adds to his Sprint success with an unstoppable performance, beating Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) by half a second at the line. Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro had great late-race pace, stealing a podium from reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia in a nail-biting opening Sprint.

Martin got the holeshot into turn one, placing the Ducati ahead of the fast-starting Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who shot from the second row to second place. As the race progressed the front two began to try and create a gap, with Binder taking his first look to try and take the lead on lap two. Binder thought better of this move, remaining in second position.

With just an 11-lap race it was fast and furious with Francesco Bagnaia overtaking fellow Ducati Lenovo Team rider, Enea Bastianini. The Beast battled back, briefly overtaking Bagnaia but ran wide and handed the #1 the position in a fierce battle between teammates.

Martin set the fastest lap of the race earlier on, trying to escape the clutches of the South African. However, the gap began to close with the front six riders bunching together as the race progressed. Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team’s Fabio Di Giannantonio had an early end to his race after a decent start, the Italian crashing on lap two. The front group continued to battle which allowed Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) to catch the lead group. The #93 qualified in sixth position and was straight on the pace for the start of the Sprint. Marquez found his way through Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) with just five laps remaining.

Marc Marquez could sense a Sprint podium, putting pressure on Bagnaia in third position. However, Marquez made a mistake, running wide and allowing Espargaro to catch and pass the eight-time World Champion. Meanwhile, Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was having his own battle further down the field with rookie star Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3).

On the final two laps, all eyes were on the front group and Aleix Espargaro who closed the gap to Bagnaia and tried to find a way through. It was a stunning battle and after one failed attempt, Espargaro battled back, passing to take the podium place at the final corner with one lap remaining.

Bagnaia held onto fourth place at the chequered flag, finishing ahead of Marc Marquez who was full of smiles after his first Sprint with Gresini Racing MotoGP™, rounding out the top five. Behind was Bastianini who ended the opening Sprint of the year in sixth. Alex Marquez managed to get the better of Acosta at the line, beating the rookie to seventh position. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) came across the line to score the final point of the day after coming home to finish in ninth position.

MOTOGP – RACE: Bagnaia back on top after perfection in Qatar

MotoGP™ is finally back in action, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) dominating proceedings, winning the opening Grand Prix of the season and taking the title lead. The Italian came across the line ahead of South African, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who finished one second behind. Joining them on the podium was last year’s runner-up, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Ducati) in a solid result for the Spaniard.

It was a delayed start to the race after Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) had a technical issue on the grid. The Spaniard’s Aprilia was pushed into the pitlane with a new race distance of 21 laps.

Once the lights went out, Jorge Martin made a great start to the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar, leading the way into turn one. Brad Binder exited turn one in second, before reigning World Champion, Francesco Bagnaia took the position from him, claiming the race lead.

At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia built a lead of 0.215 from Binder and Martin. Behind the leading trio was eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) who made a great start into fourth.

Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed at turn one, losing the front on the second lap of the race.

The fastest lap of the race went the way of rookie Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) who looked confident in the opening stage of the race – setting a new race lap record. Acosta made his way into sixth, passing Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) and Ducati Lenovo Team’s Enea Bastianini.

Bagnaia bridged a three-tenth of a second gap, forcing Martin to pass Binder to reclaim second place. The South African fought back before Martin responded on the entry to turn one, in a thrilling battle for second position.

Pre-race favourite, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) started the race in second position but would drop to ninth. The Spaniard was battling with last year’s winner, Di Giannantonio throughout the race.

As the race progressed Bagnaia stretched his gap to over one second, with a group of four now battling for second. The race hit lap 11 – the distance of Saturday’s Sprint – with the questions about tyre life beginning.

Pedro Acosta continued to show his talent, launching a move down the inside on lap 12, passing Marc Marquez. This forced the #93 to push with the gap to Acosta increasing to half a second. However, Acosta’s rear tyre began to step out, running wide and allowing Marc Marquez into fourth.

Acosta fell further down the field with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Enea Bastianini overtook the rookie – dropping Acosta to seventh position. The 19-year-old soon fell into the clutches of Di Giannantonio and Aleix Espargaro.

Raul Fernandez’s race went from bad to worse – pulling the Aprilia into the pits with four laps remaining.

The race was now on for the lead to see if Binder could respond to Bagnaia’s one-second advantage. However, the smooth style of Bagnaia looked strong, and with no mistakes from the reigning World Champion, he would come across the line to win.

Behind the front three, Marc Marquez showed great pace throughout the race, starting strong with Ducati. Behind the #93 was Enea Bastianini who fought his way into fifth, finishing ahead of Alex Marquez in sixth. Meanwhile, Fabio Di Giannantonio could not repeat last year’s success, finishing in seventh ahead of Aleix Espargaro who rounded out the top eight.

Pedro Acosta finished inside the top 10 on his MotoGP™ debut, crossing the chequered flag in ninth, beating Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) to the line. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ Team) finished as the top Yamaha in 11th, finishing ahead of the top Honda, Johann Zarco (CASTROL Honda LCR).

Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) was behind in 13th, finishing ahead of Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) and Miguel Oliveira (Trackhouse Racing) who scored the final Championship points on Sunday’s Grand Prix.

“We’re half happy. It was a difficult race: I couldn’t get the bike stopped the way I wanted and that prevented me from pushing hard. Then I tried to save the tyres for the final laps, but in hindsight it wasn’t the right choice, as the drop was a lot lower compared to yesterday. It’s a shame because I could have surely done something better, but I must settle with this finishing position. Our expectations were higher, but we’ll try to do better in the next race; once we get to Portimão, we will have a clearer picture on how to make a further step forward.”
Enea Bastianini – P5

Augusto Fernández

“A bit better. I know we are still far and we did not get any points today but this is the best feeling I’ve had yet this year with the 2024 bike. I’m starting to get the feedback and the team is working really hard to give me what I need and I’m working really hard to adapt if I need to bring something different to be quicker. We’ll take the positives, and we have a base to start with in Portimao.”
Augusto Fernández – P17

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