until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Martin's late slump lets Bagnaia build lead as Zarco finally wins

3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Jorge Martin missed another chance to slash Pecco Bagnaia's championship lead as a failed tyre gamble meant he fell from first to fifth on the Australian Grand Prix's last lap and his Pramac Ducati team-mate Johann Zarco finally got a first MotoGP victory.

Bagnaia's points gap was on course to drop back to just four at one point when he was shuffled down to fifth while Martin dominated.

But instead Bagnaia was able to increase his cushion to 27 points as he slipped through to second when Zarco overtook the fading Martin for the lead on the final lap.

The grand prix and sprint have swapped places on the schedule this weekend to make sure the main race could take place given the extreme weather forecast for Sunday.

Dominant pole-winner Martin was one of just a handful of riders to pick the soft rear tyre and he used it to make an early break, building a lead that peaked at three and a half seconds.

Bagnaia came under initial attack from fast-starting home favourite Jack Miller, then was overtaken for third by Fabio di Giannantonio's Gresini Ducati and later by Zarco too.

Brad Binder spent much of the race in a clear second between Martin and di Giannantonio, but that pack closed together into the final 10 laps, as di Giannantonio overtook the KTM and brought Zarco and Bagnaia with him too.

The increasingly close fight for second between that quartet looked like it might save Martin as his pace began to fade.

Zarco got to the front in the queue in a move on Binder that sent the KTM down to fifth, potentially giving Martin his team-mate to protect him.

But as they went onto the final lap, Martin's pace had become so poor that Zarco had no choice but to try to overtake.

As he did so, Bagnaia pounced too and grabbed third, with Martin slipping back behind first-time podium finisher di Giannantonio and Binder too to fifth.

Zarco resisted Bagnaia to win by 0.201s, finally taking his first MotoGP win in his seventh season and four events before he leaves the Ducati fold for LCR Honda.

Marc Marquez gave more evidence of the soft tyre’s fragility by going from leading the pack pushing Bagnaia for fourth early on to only just getting a point in 15th.

Marco Bezzecchi had a strong end to the race to progress to sixth for VR46 Ducati ahead of Miller.

It was a muted race for Aprilia. Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales both lost ground on lap one and ended up eighth and 11th, with Alex Marquez and Enea Bastianini between them.

Yamaha had an abysmal day. Fabio Quartararo at least edged up to 14th by the flag, after he and team-mate Franco Morbidelli had initially run around at the back with just Taka Nakagami behind them.

Marquez was still top Honda in 15th as Alex Rins withdrew before qualifying with new pain from his leg injury and Joan Mir yet again crashed out, this time while dicing with Luca Marini.

A further schedule change has been made for Sunday to try to get racing in before the worst of the weather hits, with everything moved forward by one hour. That means the sprint is scheduled to run at 1pm local time, after Moto3 and Moto2's races.

Race Results

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Johann ZarcoDucati27140m39.446s1m29.382s025
2Francesco BagnaiaDucati270+0.201s1m29.439s020
3Fabio Di GiannantonioDucati270+0.477s1m29.218s016
4Brad BinderKTM270+0.816s1m29.195s013
5Jorge MartinDucati2726+1.008s1m28.823s011
6Marco BezzecchiDucati270+8.827s1m29.403s010
7Jack MillerKTM270+9.283s1m29.626s09
8Aleix EspargaróAprilia270+9.387s1m29.543s08
9Alex MarquezDucati270+9.696s1m29.533s07
10Enea BastianiniDucati270+12.523s1m29.836s06
11Maverick ViñalesAprilia270+13.992s1m29.936s05
12Luca MariniDucati270+17.078s1m29.935s04
13Miguel OliveiraAprilia270+19.443s1m29.952s03
14Fabio QuartararoYamaha270+20.949s1m29.927s02
15Marc MarquezHonda270+21.118s1m29.310s01
16Raul FernandezAprilia270+32.538s1m29.789s00
17Franco MorbidelliYamaha270+37.663s1m30.045s00
18Pol EspargaróKTM270+37.668s1m29.786s00
19Takaaki NakagamiHonda270+37.758s1m30.568s00
Augusto FernandezKTM120DNF1m29.860s00
Joan MirHonda100DNF1m29.916s00
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