Defending world champion Bagnaia bounces back to win Catalunya MotoGP

  • Bagnaia has notoriously struggled in the past at the Montmelo circuit.
MotoGP
Bagnaia has notoriously struggled in the past at the Montmelo circuit. (AFP)
MotoGP
Bagnaia has notoriously struggled in the past at the Montmelo circuit.

Two-time defending world champion Francesco Bagnaia bounced back to snatch victory at the Catalunya MotoGP on Sunday to edge closer to championship leader Jorge Martin.

Bagnaia on his factory Ducati reeled in race leader Martin before passing him at turn five, where he crashed out of the sprint in the last lap on Saturday, to claim his third victory of the season.

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Martin could not respond and the Italian triumphed by nearly two seconds to cut the gap on the Spaniard to 39 points in the standings.

Home favourite Marc Marquez came in third ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who announced he is retiring at the end of the season earlier this week.

Marquez is third in the standings, 41 points behind compatriot Martin, whose advantage on the field actually increased by one point.

"Honestly I was very angry about yesterday (his sprint crash) but I knew the potential I had and was able to win the race," said Bagnaia.

"(It was a) tough start but then I saw some struggling at the front and I pushed more.

"The bike was amazing, the team did an amazing job setting up the bike and now I'm looking forward to the next race (next weekend's Italian MotoGP)."

Bagnaia has notoriously struggled in the past at the Montmelo circuit.

The Italian made a defiant gesture in celebration after the race on the lap of honour at turn five.

"I was afraid of falling again on the last lap because it is the ugliest thing that can happen to you," he told DAZN.

Seventh at lights out on his Pramac Ducati, Martin got through on Pedro Acosta for second and then Bagnaia on turn 10 to take the lead with 20 laps to go.

Youngster Acosta was in hot pursuit on the day after his 20th birthday but skidded off the track in lap 11, rejoining in 20th place.

- 'There was nothing left' -

Bagnaia was chipping away and eventually passed Martin with five laps remaining before keeping the overall leader at arm's length to clinch victory.

"I am super happy, super proud, starting from seventh I executed perfectly the first corner and into fourth," said Martin.

"Towards the end I tried to keep the pace but had nothing left in my pocket.

"I tried to put some pressure on Bagnaia but there was nothing left and it was complicated."

After a sluggish start Marquez, aiming for a first MotoGP win since 2021, charged forward from 14th spot on the grid on his Ducati-Gresini.

He finally got past Aprilia rider Espargaro to claim a podium spot.

Espargaro, 34, won the sprint on Saturday and was hoping to do the double at Catalunya as he did last year, but was left frustrated despite starting on pole.

Marquez opted for a soft rear tyre looking to make early progress, although in the end he took his time to move forward.

"I had a bad start, however, step by step I made up ground -- I was patient as I knew the race was long," said Marquez, who was recording his third successive podium finish.

"I was able to defend third, I was sorry for Aleix as it was his final race in Catalunya but delighted to be back among the top guys again."

Enea Bastianini, fourth overall, came in ninth but was slapped with a 'ride-through' after missing two penalties in the race, moving him down to 18th.

KTM rider Jack Miller suffered his ninth crash of a nightmare season in the fourth lap.

First Published Date: 28 May 2024, 08:59 AM IST
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