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Jorge Martin has won once again and is now just three points away from Francesco Bagnaia and the championship lead after a wet race in Motegi, which was stopped at halfway distance.
MotoGP Motegi 2023: Uncertainty in the midst of rain
For half an hour before the race started, spots of rain made things uncertain for teams and riders alike. Despite the damp track, no rider elected to start on wet tyres. Maverick Vinales was the first casualty of the race, after contact with Johann Zarco and Marco Bezzecchi.
Jorge Martin kept the lead, ahead of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia, with the Aussie making a bold move for the lead towards the end of the lap. All but five riders pitted as the first lap came to a close.
Bagnaia was the first on his new bike, but he was late to release the pit limiter and rejoined in fifth. After that exchange, the top five riders, of those who pitted, were Martin, Aleix Espargaro, Marc Marquez, Miller and Bagnaia. There were plenty more twists and turns in the next few laps, the most significant being Martin running wide and dropping to eighth.
Just a couple of laps later, the order was vastly different: Espargaro, Marquez, Bagnaia, Bezzecchi, Martin, Miller. On the fifth lap, Martin -who had a spectacular recovery after his earlier error- became the leader, passing Bagnaia and Espargaro on the same lap. The factory Ducati rider reacted straight away and got up to second, ahead of the Aprilia, who kept falling further and further back.
🤯 @88jorgemartin made that look easy!
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) October 1, 2023
The race settled down with small gaps forming between Martin, Bagnaia, Bezzecchi, Marquez and Oliveira. The Portuguese rider parked his bike in his garage though, thanks to mechanical issues. On the track, the next move came from the Honda rider, who got up to third. On the next lap, the thirteenth of the race, the race got red flagged, as the rain got heavier and Zarco crashed.
The MotoGP race direction tried to restart the race after half an hour, but the track was still too wet. With darkness looming, the decision was taken not to restart the race and finish it, with full points given.
MotoGP Motegi 2023: The results
Jorge Martin was awarded the victory, a crucial one in the context of the championship, as he is now just three points behind Francesco Bagnaia and will have a real opportunity to overhaul him in the next round, in Indonesia. It is his third Grand Prix win of the season, all paired with a sprint victory. The Italian avoided mistakes and brought his bike home in second position, limiting the damage.
On Honda’s home turf, Marc Marquez delivered the team its first Grand Prix podium since Philip Island last year, after his late rise through the order saw him climb to third. He was ahead of Marco Bezzecchi, who dropped even further back in the championship hunt. Aleix Espargaro led early on but was not able to hold onto the lead and he could only manage fifth.
Jack Miller was sixth in the sole finishing factory KTM bike, as Brad Binder crashed early on. Augusto Fernandez achieved his second best MotoGP result in seventh, ahead of Fabio di Giannantonio and Raul Fernandez.
Fabio Quartararo was one of the riders who stayed out for a few more laps on slick tyres, but he was only able to finish tenth, as the top Yamaha. Takaaki Nakagami was eleventh, ahead of Joan Mir, who ran as high as sixth but dropped back. Cal Crutchlow scored points in thirteenth, in his only start of 2023, whilst Stefan Bradl and Pol Espargaro completed the points paying positions.
Johann Zarco crashed shortly before the red flag whilst running seventh, in a fantastic recovery after getting hit and running through the gravel on the first corner.
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