until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Martin prevails in three-way victory duel in phenomenal Thai GP

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Pramac Ducati MotoGP rider Jorge Martin trimmed Pecco Bagnaia's world championship lead by winning the Thailand Grand Prix in a spectacular duel against Brad Binder and Bagnaia.

And in fighting off the pair, Martin very briefly closed to within nine points of Bagnaia in the standings at the finish - only for the gap to increase to 13 points moments later as Binder was demoted behind Bagnaia due to a last-lap track limits breach.

Polesitter Martin was again slightly unconvincing off the line, as he had been on Saturday, but again managed to fight off Luca Marini into Turn 1 - before Aleix Espargaro overtook the VR46 Ducati for second later into the opening lap.

For Bagnaia, it was an improved start from sixth on the grid compared to his poor sprint getaway, putting him in position to grab fourth place from Alex Marquez on the braking to Turn 3, only to nearly fall off at Turn 9 in a close call with Binder and drop two more places.

But with Martin appearing to manage the pace massively out front - the top 12 was still separated by just around three seconds on lap six - it gave Bagnaia plenty of time to move up the order without dropping away from the leader.

Initially, though, he was going the other way - a second-lap battle with Marquez ending with the latter staying ahead and Bagnaia then being picked off quite aggressively by Marquez's brother Marc at Turn 5 on lap four.

But Bagnaia struck back with an aggressive move of his own, at Turn 4, on the following lap. He was soon past Aleix Espargaro, too, moving up to fifth - with a subsequent heated duel between Espargaro and Marc Marquez then allowing the leading quintet to establish a buffer over the rest.

In that leading quintet, Binder was up to second and right on the back of Martin, having cleared Marini and Espargaro in successive laps early on - but with Martin managing to keep the KTM man at arm's length.

They briefly threatened to break away together, but couldn't. And as Bagnaia overtook Marini at Turn 3 on lap 10 and Alex Marquez (the only rider in the field using a medium rear instead of a hard rear) crashed out of third at Turn 10 three laps later, it soon meant the championship leader was on the back of the leading duo.

It set the stage for a spectacular conclusion for the race, in which all three riders looked to have a realistic shot at bringing the win home.

Binder's first serious overtaking attempt on Martin came on lap 20 of 26 at the Turn 8 right-hander - but, though the lunge put him ahead, he couldn't keep a tight enough line to prevent Martin from getting the better corner exit.

The exact same description applied to Binder's next overtaking more, a divebomb into Turn 3 the next time around. And he then nearly clattered into the back of Martin at the final corner.

But despite that miscue he was still close enough to Martin to get a second crack at that Turn 8 move, and this time it came off, Binder managing to close the line and keep Martin from maximising his corner exit.

Over the next few minutes, Martin's biggest concern was keeping Bagnaia at bay, but eventually Binder came back towards him and, on the penultimate tour, Martin audaciously tried to squeeze down an ever-disappearing gap on the inside of Turn 3, eventually forcing Binder to relent and go wide, ceding position.

It was now Bagnaia's turn to make an audacious bid for the lead of his own. The works Ducati man got a spectacular run through the changes of direction in the Turns 9-10-11 sequence, and entering the final corner was so good under braking that he not only cleared Binder but drew alongside Martin.

Martin, though, wisely ran him out wide, allowing Binder to reclaim second place. And though the South African hounded Martin all throughout the final lap, Martin held firm to take home the win, completing a Thai GP double after his sprint triumph.

A fairly blatant track limits infringement by Binder earlier in the lap, at Turn 4, meant Bagnaia was promoted to second place, minimising the damage to his points lead.

Behind the all-timer podium battle, a charging Marco Bezzecchi - just a few weeks removed from the training crash that left him with a right collarbone fracture - ultimately ended up a pretty lonely fourth, scything his way through the pack but not managing to really close in on the leading trio.

Espargaro took home fifth place for Aprilia, followed by Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, Marc Marquez for Honda and Marini, whose pace faded in the closing stages - this presumably linked to Marini still lacking strength in his left shoulder after himself fracturing his collarbone last month.

Finishing behind him were Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), making it six Desmosedicis in the top 10.

Despite the track limits disappointment, Binder's run to third was still remarkable given all three of the other KTM RC16s took the chequered flag outside of the points-scoring top 15.

Alex Marquez's crash was the sole fall of the race, but there were two more retirements, seemingly linked to mechanical issues, and both on Aprilia's side - with works rider Maverick Vinales and RNF rider Miguel Oliveira exiting the grand prix.

Race Results

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Jorge MartinDucati262339m40.045s1m31.090s037
2Francesco BagnaiaDucati260+0.253s1m30.899s023
3Brad BinderKTM263+0.114s1m30.950s025
4Marco BezzecchiDucati260+2.005s1m30.896s017
5Aleix EspargaróAprilia260+4.303s1m31.023s016
6Fabio QuartararoYamaha260+4.550s1m31.097s010
7Marc MarquezHonda260+5.362s1m30.996s015
8Luca MariniDucati260+6.778s1m31.054s015
9Fabio Di GiannantonioDucati260+7.569s1m31.259s07
10Johann ZarcoDucati260+9.377s1m31.173s07
11Franco MorbidelliYamaha260+11.168s1m31.341s05
12Joan MirHonda260+11.990s1m31.380s04
13Enea BastianiniDucati260+12.323s1m31.270s03
14Takaaki NakagamiHonda260+14.537s1m31.524s02
15Raul FernandezAprilia260+15.093s1m31.150s01
16Jack MillerKTM260+17.640s1m31.455s00
17Augusto FernandezKTM260+21.307s1m31.273s00
18Pol EspargaróKTM260+21.435s1m31.437s00
Maverick ViñalesAprilia230DNF1m30.977s00
Alex MarquezDucati120DNF1m30.991s02
Miguel OliveiraAprilia60DNF1m31.814s00
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