#SpanishGP Jerez, Sunday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Two KTMS, one Ducati, and one hell of a race. Reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) pounced in style to deny Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) the spoils at the Gran Premio Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España, but it went right to the wire – and was far from a two-man show. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was right up in the mix as the podium battle tested out the adage rubbing is racing, but the Australian said it himself: “I love this so much.” And so do we!
It wasn’t without a dash of chaos, drama and, for some, bad luck, however, with former points leader Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) losing that moniker as he slid out. And before the race – that counts – even got going, the first start was Red Flagged after a crash for Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team), with Bezzecchi also “involved”, or rather the rider just to the inside of both. The Portuguese rider was a completely innocent party as he got caught up on the outside, and suffered a dislocated shoulder since treated at the Medical Centre. Quartararo? For the team he was certainly innocent of anything more than racing and running out of space. For the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards the Frenchman deserved a Long Lap…
He was fine to restart though, and as it had been on take one, take two was another KTM show from lights out as they slotted into a 1-2, with Binder leading Miller as Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) slotting into third. Polesitter Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) lost out once again, with Bagnaia also past and into fourth, and he didn’t waste time attacking Martin either. A stylish swoop around Martin at Pedrosa corner and he was through.
It didn’t take long for Miller to decide he was heading through either, sliding down the inside of teammate Binder at the final corner on his mission for Sunday glory. The KTMs then got the hammer down in tandem too, starting to pull away, before Binder returned the favour and Bagnaia set the fastest lap so far to start reeling them in.
Once on the scene, Bagnaia wasted no time in getting past the Aussie, putting his factory Ducati in the tiniest of gaps at Pedrosa corner to sit up the KTM and making a little contact in the process. He raised his had to apologise, Miller raised his to say pfff. The number 43 was then under attack from Martin as well, but snapped straight back at the final corner. That pushed the Pramac well well wide, but no contact there as he slotted back in just behind Aleix Espargaro into fifth…
One lap later, and more penalty drama. Bagnaia was forced to drop one position after that earlier contact though, and the Italian dropped anchor to let Miller back past. It was a KTM one-two once again, but Martin soon got back past Aleix Espargaro to start bothering Miller again.
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) then crashed out from behind Martin, joining earlier faller Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) as a DNF. And Bezzecchi was just about to join them, the Italian sliding out at Pedrosa, rider ok but ceding that points lead.
Back at the front, Binder was now six tenths ahead of Bagnaia, but as the final few laps dawned the Ducati was gaining, gaining and gaining. At the final corner with four to go, Pecco pounced to perfection and headed over the line with three to go in the lead. Could Binder respond?
At first it seemed like a no, but the number 33 dragged the speed from somewhere. He closed back in, and by the final lap it looked plausible if not likely that Binder would get close enough. By the final sector it looked like one motorcycle in the lead, and the last Lorenzo corner was coming.
The stage was set for a lunge, but Bagnaia was having none of it. The reigning Champion was incredibly strong on the brakes and shut the door to perfection, leaving Binder to have a brief look but find no way through. Split by just two tenths over the line, it was fitting it went to the wire after a stunning race.
Miller took third place and that’s now premier class podiums with three different bikes, as well as his first GP rostrum visit with KTM. Martin takes fourth place and was fuming at the Australian for his move, and Aleix Espargaro completed the top five.
Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) took sixth in a close, close finish with KTM wildcard and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). The number 26 was thousandths off but took another top ten after an incredible weekend on his return to competition. Behind them, Alex Marquez(Gresini Racing MotoGP™) took eighth ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). One bit of late drama saw Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) lose out on that as a technical problem caused him a last lap DNF.
On Quartararo watch, the Frenchman was classified tenth after even more drama. He made progress, did the Long Lap but actually didn’t quite stay in the lines, and then had to do another Long Lap. So the comeback into the top ten was something to write home about. Will we see Yamaha make a statement about the penalty as they did after Assen last season? It seems a story likely to roll on.
With the Championship plot ever-changing in MotoGP™, there’s no telling what the next chapter holds as the paddock moves to the SHARK Grand Prix de France on the 12th – 14th of May. It’s no ordinary race weekend either: it’s the 1000th Grand Prix in history. Home heroes Quartararo and Zarco may have had different ideas of how they’d want to arrive into the weekend, but anything can happen – we’ve already had 10 riders on the GP podium this season and they’re both among them.
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) smashed it out the park in Spain, with th Brit back on top for the first time since Emilia-Romagna 2021. No one had an answer for the Brit’s stunning pace, with the number 22 pulling away once in the lead and coming home with time for a huge wheelie over the line. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) came home in second after initially leading the way, now equal with Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) on points at the top of the Championship, with Alonso Lopez (CAG Speed Up) back on the podium in third.
After getting the holeshot into Turn 1 to get ahead of Lowes, Acosta led the field around most of the first lap until the Brit pounced at the final corner. Arbolino made a lightning start from P10 too, and the Italian was battling Lopez for P3 on the opening lap.
Back-to-back fastest laps of the race saw Lowes pull 0.4s clear of Acosta, who in turn had 1.1s in hand over Lopez. Arbolino was getting beaten up a bit after a good start though, the title chaser embroiled in a battle with Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Filip Salač (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™) and Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40).
By 14 laps to go, Lowes had stretched his lead out to 0.8s. The top two were in a league of their own at this stage, with Lopez 2.2s off Acosta’s rear wheel. With 11 to go, the leader’s gap was up to 1.7s as Lowes got the hammer down, with Acosta still pulling clear of third place Lopez. Ogura was leading the P4 battle with Arbolino tucked right in behind the Japanese star, before Turn 1 on Lap 13 saw Ogura crash out after very, very slight contact with Arbolino’s rear wheel.
Lap 16 of 21 passed by as Lowes continued to stretch his advantage out over Acosta. With five laps left, 2.3s was Lowes’ margin for error, with Lopez holding off Arbolino for the final podium spot by just over a second. And heading onto the final lap, 2.9s was the gap. Lowes managed to bring his Triumph Kalex machine home for a pitch-perfect Spanish GP victory, as Acosta claimed P2 on home turf to bring himself level on points at the top of the overall standings. Lopez managed to hold off Arbolino by half a second to grab his second rostrum of the season.
Arbolino finished P4 from 10th on the grid, he’s now tied on points with Acosta at the summit of the Championship table. Canet picks up a valuable P5 from a P12 grid slot, ahead of Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar M2), Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Salač and Fermin Aldeguer (CAG SpeedUp) in the top 10.
Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) has done it again! After taking a maiden win at the Americas GP, the Spaniard doubled down on home turf with another impressive charge to win the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España. It went to the wire in another Moto3™ classic at Jerez, with Ortola followed home by some close company from rookie David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar), the first Colombian to take a podium in Grand Prix racing, and veteran home hero Jaume Masia(Leopard Racing).
Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took the holeshot off the line and fended off attacks from an eager-starting Ortola, but Championship leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Ryusei Yamanaka (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar) soon joined the fight. The front two of Holgado and Ortola began to break away at the front, however, with Öncü next up before Masia made his way past in style at Turn 11 to get on the chase. Yamanaka joined him and the two reeled in the leaders before heartbreak for the Japanese rider as he suffered a technical issue, forced to drop back.
It then became a six-bike battle for victory as Xavier Artigas (CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP) joined the fray, followed by Alonso and fellow rookie Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) into the mix.
By six to go, Masia decided it was his turn to lead his home Grand Prix, taking over from Holgado at the front. The second group, by now including Öncü as well as Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) and Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing), was on the scene, creating a nine-rider battle for Spanish Grand Prix victory. The race was on!
The order continued to change from corner to corner, but it was Masia leading over the line as the last lap got underway with Alonso in 2nd, Ortola 3rd, Sasaki 4th, and Holgado 5th. But in the course of two corners, Masia dropped from the lead to 4th place as the group barrelled into the final sector. Into the stunning final Jorge Lorenzo corner, Ortola was back in front after a stunning move for the front, and he held off the shuffle behind as he gassed it to the line for a second win in two.
Alonso brought home his first Grand Prix podium in only his sixth race, with Masia able to snap back at Sasaki to take the final podium spot. Still, after incredible speed but some high profile crashes so far in 2023, fourth is some precious points. Rueda rounded out the top 5 after an impressive display on home soi, with Holgado dropping down to 6th place on the final lap. Still, he retains the points lead.
Suzuki takes eighth after fading slightly late on, but the Japanese rider is also still recovering from his crash last time out. Polesitter Öncü, after getting a Long Lap penalty in the last couple of laps for exceeding track limits, didn’t do it in time and therefore got a 3-second penalty, classified ninth. Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) completed the top ten after a tougher weekend for the Brazilian, just ahead of Romano Fenati (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team).