until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Martin cuts into Bagnaia's lead again as Marquez dominates sprint

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Gresini Ducati rider Alex Marquez won the Malaysian Grand Prix sprint at Sepang, as Jorge Martin took a small chunk out of Pecco Bagnaia's MotoGP points lead.

Marquez was dominant in the sprint for his second Saturday win of the season, having looked to possess electric pace all throughout the weekend.

Bagnaia's lead was reduced to 11 points at the chequered flag, but it's his pace that will be the bigger concern going into Sunday.

While Bagnaia kept his lead off pole, Martin lost two places off the line, picked off by Enea Bastianini and Marquez - with the latter then quickly overtaking the former.

Martin would get back past Bastianini later in the lap, and briefly retook second a lap later - as Marquez ran wide at the final corner lunging at Bagnaia, then again ran wide at Turn 1 trying to counter-attack against Martin.

But it took just a couple of corners for Marquez to gather himself and pull off a successful move on Martin, and though their battle briefly allowed Bagnaia to establish a six-tenths lead, Marquez made super-quick work of that and was soon all over Bagnaia once more.

On lap six of 10, he finally made a move for the lead stick, outbraking Bagnaia down the inside of the sharp Turn 9 left-hander.

With a Marquez breakaway an obvious threat at that point, Martin immediately pounced on Bagnaia as well, getting through on the exit of Turn 14. But he had no answer to the Gresini man, either, Marquez establishing a one-second lead over the next lap.

Marquez eventually took the chequered flag by 1.6s over Martin.

A piece of paper briefly got lodged in the right aero winglet on Bagnaia's fairing after he got overtaken by Martin, though it didn't seem to impact his pace and soon removed itself.

Yet the final few laps were nervy for Bagnaia regardless, as he dropped away from Martin and found himself being followed very closely by works team-mate Enea Bastianini.

Bastianini, in easily his strongest showing of the season, had slipped behind the factory KTM duo early on before overtaking both. He never looked like mounting a serious attack on Bagnaia, and nearly lost fourth place while in his team-mate's wheeltracks, getting attacked by Brad Binder in the final corner but oudragging Binder to the finish line by 0.068s.

Jack Miller finished sixth on the other works KTM, followed by Marco Bezzecchi (VR36 Ducati), Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) and Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati).

It meant that points in the sprint were only scored by Ducati and KTM.

Maverick Vinales was Aprilia's lead rider in 10th, while Franco Morbidelli finished right behind him as the lead Yamaha - with Fabio Quartararo having dropped back early on in an unseen incident.

The lead Honda rider was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR) all the way back in 19th.

Factory Honda team-mates Marc Marquez and Joan Mir both crashed on the fourth lap, although both crashes were minor enough for them to rejoin.

They finished either side of Ducati wildcard Alvaro Bautista, who lost a huge amount of time in the early laps.

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