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MotoGP

Bagnaia wins Austria sprint skewed by huge first-lap pile-up

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Reigning MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia won the Austrian Grand Prix sprint at the Red Bull Ring, one punctuated by a multi-bike shunt in the first corner of the opening lap.

A dreadfully slow start by Maverick Vinales in the middle of the front row combined with Jorge Martin lunging down the inside of the first corner meant Fabio Quartararo was sandwiched between the two, with contact between him and Martin sending him into Vinales and creating a huge mess.

The bottleneck collision through the tight right-hander knocked Marco Bezzecchi off his VR46-run Ducati on the outside, and also dropped Martin’s Pramac team-mate Johann Zarco and RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira from their bikes, while hugely compromising the likes of Ducati rider Enea Bastianini and Tech3 Gas Gas rookie Augusto Fernandez in addition to Vinales and Quartararo.

Out front, championship leader Bagnaia held the lead from pole despite the two traditionally fast-starting KTMs lining up behind him.

And having fought off a hint of early pressure from Binder, Bagnaia ultimately had a very straightforward ride to his fourth sprint win.

Binder likewise rode steadily en route to second, 1.9s off the win, but despite picking up third off the start team-mate Jack Miller did not have the pace to put a second KTM on the podium.

Miller was overtaken by Luca Marini into the first corner on the sixth tour, then ran wide at Turn 3, Remus, while trying to keep up with Marini and let Martin through.

He would swiftly regain one of those positions though, as Martin was involved in another incident – lunging at Marini into Red Bull Ring’s MotoGP-specific chicane and making contact after entering the corner just ahead on the inside, with Marini crashing out.

The incident meant Martin consolidated third – and he was cleared of wrongdoing by the stewards in the Marini collision – but he remains under investigation for his role in the opening-lap crash.

However, it is Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez who would stand to inherit the podium if Marin is handed a time penalty, with Marquez having gone past Miller on the eighth lap.

Miller did hang on to fifth, soaking up late pressure from Pol Espargaro, who picked up his first points of the season after his long injury absence.

His brother Aleix was right behind him at the chequered flag, and Vinales, 18th on the opening lap, recovered to eighth place, just 0.024s behind his Aprilia team-mate.

Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli fought off Honda’s Marc Marquez for the final place in the points-scoring top nine.

His team-mate Quartararo was caught up in another incident after the opening-corner melee, with Quartararo knocking tester Lorenzo Savadori off his Aprilia coming through Turn 4, Schlossgold, and being rewarded with a long-lap penalty.

A crash for LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami added to the attrition. He was taken to the medical centre with pain in his right foot but described by his team as “fine, nothing broken”.

Sprint Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Bike Gap Best Time
1 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 1m29.383s
2 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +2.056s 1m29.593s
3 Jorge Martin Prima Pramac Racing Ducati +5.045s 1m29.405s
4 Alex Marquez Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +8.252s 1m29.906s
5 Jack Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM +11.365s 1m29.692s
6 Pol Espargaró GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +11.816s 1m30.057s
7 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia Racing Aprilia +11.96s 1m30.176s
8 Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Aprilia +11.984s 1m29.822s
9 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +13.634s 1m30.171s
10 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team Honda +14.435s 1m30.17s
11 Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati +15.251s 1m30.316s
12 Joan Mir Repsol Honda Team Honda +16.74s 1m30.581s
13 Enea Bastianini Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati +18.825s 1m30.303s
14 Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia +19.536s 1m30.788s
15 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha +22.321s 1m30.26s
16 Iker Lecuona LCR Honda CASTROL Honda +25.593s 1m30.909s
17 Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM +25.789s 1m30.917s
Johann Zarco Prima Pramac Racing Ducati 1m29.76s
Luca Marini Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1m29.739s
Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia Racing Aprilia 1m30.896s
Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 1m30.691s
Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 0s
Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia 0s
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