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On home turf, Aleix Espargaro took his first victory in a Sprint, despite a start that put him down to fourth. Francesco Bagnaia was second and extended his championship lead.
MotoGP Barcelona 2023 Sprint: A bad start, but a triumphant recovery
As expected, the bad starts of Aprilia affected Aleix Espargaro once again, as he was down to fourth by the first corner. Francesco Bagnaia started on pole and kept his lead on the first lap and now he had Jorge Martin behind him, as the Pramac rider leapt from fifth to second very briefly. From fourth on the grid, Maverick Vinales also had a good getaway, which initially put him up to third.
With a brave move around the outside, Vinales took over second position. Martin would not even be able to hold onto third, as Espargaro also got ahead, halfway into the first lap. At the start of the next one, Espargaro passed his teammate to climb to second and return where he started. Then, it was all about catching and passing the championship leader, so the chase was on.
After a failed attempt on the fifth lap, a decisive move under braking for Turn 1 on the sixth lap gave Espargaro the lead. And he would not look back, as he quickly pulled out a two-second lead over the Italian. Comfortably, the Catalan rider emerged victorious on a circuit that is located just a few kilometers from where he grew up.
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) September 2, 2023
MotoGP Barcelona 2023 Sprint: The results
Despite the battle for the lead being over very quickly, there was still a lot of action. Bagnaia was also caught by Vinales and had to defend against him coming to the chequered flag. The pair was split by just half a tenth of a second across the line, with the Ducati rider denying Aprilia an 1-2 finish.
Fourth went to Brad Binder, who had a nice recovery on the opening few laps from ninth on the grid. Jorge Martin had an excursion to the tarmac run-off area at Turn 1 on the third lap, as he was trying to overtake Vinales for third position. He rejoined in fifth, which also was his finishing position despite attacks from Miguel Oliveira.
Johann Zarco was seventh, one position ahead of Marco Bezzecchi. The Italian is third in the standings, but the result has to be a disappointment for him. The last point went to Enea Bastianini, who beat Alex Marquez to ninth position.
Marc Marquez was also in contention to score a few points, as he ran as high as seventh early on. His drop down the order was inevitable though, on yet another weekend that is difficult for him and Honda. The same can be said for Yamaha, which finished in fifteenth with Franco Morbidelli and eighteenth with Fabio Quartararo.
The only crash of the race came courtesy of Pol Espargaro, who went straight on at Turn 5 and fell down in the gravel trap as a result.
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