until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Espargaro defeats Martin for his and Aprilia’s first MotoGP win

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Aleix Espargaro claimed an incredible milestone win for himself and Aprilia in an exciting duel against Jorge Martin in MotoGP’s Termas de Rio Hondo race.

In what was Espargaro’s 200th MotoGP start, the Spaniard delivered a first-ever premier-class win for his Italian employer, while also recording his own maiden triumph in any class of grand prix racing.

Espargaro’s Aprilia was very sluggish off pole at the start, but managed to minimise the damage with a good entry into Turn 1 that left him second only to a fast-starting Martin – whose initial half-second lead was then quickly eroded.

The pair then made quick work of breaking away from the chasing pack, monopolising the battle for the lead over the first 10 laps, before Espargaro suddenly dropped a second back from Martin through a succession of sub-optimal corners.

A couple of laps later though, he was back on Martin’s tail and putting pressure on the Pramac man – which grew increasingly sustained lap after lap.

With eight laps to go, Espargaro slipstreamed past Martin out of Turn 4, only to fail to get his braking right into Turn 5 and hand the position back immediately. He tried again at the same spot two laps later, and was again unable to get his RS-GP stopped in time.

The third time, however, was the charm, and after completing the pass at Turn 5 Espargaro immediately went about eking out a lead, doing enough to keep the Ducati sophomore and his excellent top speed at bay through the two main straights of the circuit.

It took Espargaro until the penultimate lap to finally break Martin’s resistance, the Aprilia coming through to win by eight tenths and take the championship lead to boot.

Aleix Espargaro Aprilia MotoGP

Behind Martin, who had gotten off the mark for the season after two crashes in the first two races, Suzuki’s Alex Rins completed the podium – having fought through to third early on but never quite able to make up the gap the leading duo had established.

Joan Mir made it two Suzukis in the top four, while Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia fought through from 13th to finish fifth, him and KTM rider Brad Binder outfoxing Espargaro’s Aprilia team-mate Maverick Vinales late on.

Reigning champion Fabio Quartararo had a difficult race, dropping back to as low as 13th at one point before recovering to a final eighth, as Yamaha’s only points-scorer of the day – with both Franco Morbidelli and Andrea Dovizioso thwarted by apparent mechanical issues.

VR46 Ducati rookie Marco Bezzecchi shone in ninth despite running Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl – standing in for Marc Marquez – out wide at the start.

Erstwhile points leader Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) was compromised by a botched Turn 5 overtaking attempt on his former team-mate Luca Marini, but ultimately recovered to 10th, with Marini – who stayed in the battle for third early on after starting from the front row but ultimately faded – right behind him, just 0.040s up on Takaaki Nakagami – who was originally supposed to miss this race due to a positive COVID-19 test.

It was a difficult day for both KTM’s Indonesian GP winner Miguel Oliveira and works Ducati rider Jack Miller, who battled each other for an eventual 13th and 14th, with Marquez (LCR Honda) completing the podium.

Aleix’s brother Pol Espargaro (Honda) was the highest-profile faller, tumbling out of fourth place while chasing after Rins. Beyond the Honda factory man, there were also crashes for Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati).

MotoGP rider standings

Race Results

Pos Name Team Bike Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia Racing Aprilia 25 5 41m36.198s 1m39.375s 0 25
2 Jorge Martin Pramac Racing Ducati 25 20 +0.807s 1m39.522s 0 20
3 Alex Rins Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 25 0 +1.33s 1m39.453s 0 16
4 Joan Mir Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 25 0 +1.831s 1m39.443s 0 13
5 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 25 0 +5.84s 1m39.451s 0 11
6 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 25 0 +6.192s 1m39.505s 0 10
7 Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Aprilia 25 0 +6.54s 1m39.574s 0 9
8 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 25 0 +10.215s 1m39.611s 0 8
9 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 25 0 +12.622s 1m39.6s 0 7
10 Enea Bastianini Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 25 0 +12.987s 1m39.749s 0 6
11 Luca Marini Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 25 0 +13.962s 1m39.825s 0 5
12 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 25 0 +14.002s 1m39.773s 0 4
13 Miguel Oliveira Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 25 0 +14.456s 1m39.852s 0 3
14 Jack Miller Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 25 0 +14.898s 1m39.905s 0 2
15 Alex Marquez LCR Honda Castrol Honda 25 0 +23.472s 1m40.118s 0 1
16 Raul Fernandez Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 25 0 +25.862s 1m40.116s 0 0
17 Remy Gardner Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 25 0 +28.711s 1m40.127s 0 0
18 Darryn Binder WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 25 0 +28.784s 1m40.209s 0 0
19 Stefan Bradl Repsol Honda Team Honda 25 0 +31.943s 1m40.452s 0 0
20 Andrea Dovizioso WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 22 0 +3 laps 1m39.908s 0 0
Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 22 0 DNF 1m40.289s 0 0
Pol Espargaró Repsol Honda Team Honda 14 0 DNF 1m39.514s 0 0
Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 7 0 DNF 1m40.043s 0 0
Johann Zarco Pramac Racing Ducati 5 0 DNF 1m40.032s 0 0
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