until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Bagnaia crash throws MotoGP title fight back open

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Marco Bezzecchi dominated MotoGP's inaugural Indian Grand Prix for his VR46 Ducati team, as championship leader Pecco Bagnaia crashed out in a massive hit to his points lead.

Bagnaia's crash while running second means main rival Jorge Martin is now just 13 points behind despite some dramas of his own, with Bezzecchi 44 down.

Like on Saturday, polesitter Bezzecchi was immediately swallowed up off the line by the factory-spec Ducatis with their upgraded start devices - albeit this time he avoided being clattered into at Turn 1.

So when Bagnaia challenged Martin for the lead on the back straight, pressuring Martin into a mistake under braking at Turn 4, Bezzecchi immediately got back ahead of the Pramac man - before then lining up a swift move for the lead on Bagnaia at the final corner.

Predictably, given the evidence of his momentous Saturday charge, that effectively marked the end of the victory battle - Bezzecchi was a second clear already on lap four and four seconds in the clear by the time the race, reduced in distance from the originally-planned 24 laps to 21 due to heat concerns, reached its halfway point.

Instead, the battle between the two championship protagonists Martin and Bagnaia took centre stage.

Martin picked off the factory Ducati with a forceful move at the end of the back straight on lap four, forcing Bagnaia to sit up after tipping in for the corner - but Bagnaia then countered, putting Martin under pressure over the following laps, including one moment in which he nearly cleaned out his title rival under braking into that same corner.

On lap 13, Bagnaia finally lined up his move, taking care of Martin through the second part of the banked double-right complex of Turns 8 and 9.

Then shockingly, having almost immediately established a half-second buffer over Martin, Bagnaia threw his Ducati into the Turn 5 gravel trap, discarding a vital 20 points in an instant.

This gave Martin a clear run to second - but he then had a drama of his own, his leathers suddenly coming unzipped and carrying the risk of Martin being ordered into the pits to do them up, at least until he did just that without pulling over.

The brief slowdown that required brought Fabio Quartararo within range, but Martin immediately re-established his advantage once back up to racing speed.

He then made a huge mess of braking into Turn 4 on the final lap, allowing Quartararo to squeeze ahead on the run to Turn 5, only for Martin to bravely hang it around Quartararo's outside into Turn 6 and fight him off over the rest of the lap as he took the chequered flag 8.6s behind the race winner.

After arriving in the pitlane following the cooldown lap, Martin looked in very rough shape - and was tended to by MotoGP's medical officer Dr Angel Charte in parc ferme, having seemingly overheated badly.

Quartararo had to contend with simply a second Sunday podium of the season, while Brad Binder (KTM) and Joan Mir (Honda) completed the top five.

It marked by far the best finish of Mir's hugely troubled season so far, but could've been more still had Mir not nearly crashed at Turn 8 in the closing stages - pulling off a save but letting Binder through.

Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) and Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) completed the top 10, Vinales having been relegated to the back at the start - when he ran out of room around the outside of Turn 1 following contact between Binder and the other Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro on his inside.

Marc Marquez followed up his sprint podium with a ninth-place finish - despite having crashed while pushing after Bagnaia on the sixth lap, as he was able to pick up the bike and continue at impressive speed after his Turn 1 tip-off.

Completing the top 10 was RNF Aprilia's Raul Fernandez.

In addition to Bagnaia, there were three other retirements - albeit all riders pulling into the pits at various stages: Espargaro, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati) and Augusto Fernandez (Tech3 Gas Gas).

It meant 16 finishers from a depleted grid of 20, with both Luca Marini and Alex Marquez absent following injury-causing crashes on Sunday.

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