Jorge Martin won the MotoGP sprint race at Misano from pole position, as injured championship leader Pecco Bagnaia fought off star wildcard Dani Pedrosa for a podium.
Martin kept the lead off the line and, as Bagnaia worked his way around Marco Bezzecchi at Turn 1, their race-leading fellow Ducati rider initiated an early breakaway, soon pulling three quarters of a second clear.
Yet it wouldn’t be quite that simple for Martin, as an error at Tramonto from Bagnaia allowed Bezzecchi back past – and, despite the hand injury he’d sustained in Barcelona, the VR46 rider closed back in on Martin.
He was within half a second after three laps of 13 before Martin responded, re-establishing a cushion and fighting back every time Bezzecchi made any kind of inroads over the next stretch of laps.
Running wide at the sharp Turn 4, Rio, eventually did force Bezzecchi to effectively wave the white flag, going on to finish 1.445s behind.
It had become immediately clear that Bagnaia, riding with severe leg pain after highsiding into the path of a KTM at Barcelona last weekend, did not have the pace to run with the leading duo.
🔄 @26_DaniPedrosa in
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) September 9, 2023
But while running a lonely third in the first half of the sprint, he arrived on the last lap with two KTMs all over him – fighting off a Dani Pedrosa almost-lunge into Turn 1, and keeping both him and a frequently-sideways Brad Binder at bay until the chequered flag.
It means Bagnaia retains a 45-point lead over Martin, with Bezzecchi a further 24 adrift.
It was still a very credible race debut for KTM’s all-new carbon chassis in test rider Pedrosa’s hands, as he finished as the lead KTM, followed across the line by Binder – who had worked his way from ninth to sixth on the second lap and then overtook Maverick Vinales after a handful of laps stuck behind the Aprilia.
It was a defensive race for Vinales all throughout, but he did salvage a sixth place, keeping the second VR46 Ducati of Luca Marini at bay.
Vinales’ team-mate Aleix Espargaro scored two points in eighth, while Alex Marquez completed the points-scoring top nine for Gresini Ducati.
His brother Marc, under Honda contract until the end of 2024 but linked to a Gresini move next year, was eighth after the opening lap as he fought to deliver Honda’s first sprint-race points since the Mugello round in June.
But a minor mistake allowed his brother Alex through, and ultimately Marc came home in 10th.
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) September 9, 2023
There were no crashes in the race, but a plethora of track limits warnings and penalties – including a double long-lap for the second factory Honda of Joan Mir.
Sprint Qualifying Results
|1||Jorge Martin||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati||0s|
|2||Marco Bezzecchi||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||+1.445s||0s|
|3||Francesco Bagnaia||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||+4.582s||0s|
|4||Dani Pedrosa||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+4.772s||0s|
|5||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+4.931s||0s|
|6||Maverick Viñales||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||+6.062s||0s|
|7||Luca Marini||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||Ducati||+6.519s||0s|
|8||Aleix Espargaró||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia||+7.893s||0s|
|9||Alex Marquez||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||+9.264s||0s|
|10||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+11.318s||0s|
|11||Raul Fernandez||CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia||+13.365s||0s|
|12||Miguel Oliveira||CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team||Aprilia||+13.788s||0s|
|13||Fabio Quartararo||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+14.243s||0s|
|14||Johann Zarco||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati||+14.154s||0s|
|15||Jack Miller||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||+17.421s||0s|
|16||Pol Espargaró||GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3||KTM||+17.451s||0s|
|17||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati||+18.133s||0s|
|18||Franco Morbidelli||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||+19.749s||0s|
|19||Augusto Fernandez||GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3||KTM||+20.403s||0s|
|20||Michele Pirro||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||+21.454s||0s|
|21||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||+21.962s||0s|
|22||Stefan Bradl||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+23.672s||0s|
|23||Joan Mir||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||+36.1s||0s|