#SanMarinoGP Misano, Saturday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Pole position was converted into a Tissot Sprint victory for Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) at the Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, with Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) the only rider able to run the Spaniard close on Saturday. Reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) picked up his 10th Saturday podium of the season – and his most hard-fought yet – as the #1 fended off the two Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machines of MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and a charging Brad Binder for P3.
Martin unmatched as a magical podium fight unfolds
Martin got the exact launch he’d have wanted from pole as he grabbed the holeshot into Turn 1, as Bagnaia powered his way around the outside of Bezzecchi to grab an early P2. Pedrosa went P5 to P4 to get the better of Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) as Binder didn’t get away well – the South African was outside the top 10.
Martin immediately began to pull the pin. On Lap 2 his lead was up to 0.9s as Bagnaia made a small mistake to relinquish P2 to Bezzecchi. Meanwhile, Binder was responding in the only way he knows how: full attack mode. Midway around Lap 3 Binder was up to P6 and hounding Viñales, who by then was already nearly two seconds back from Pedrosa.
At the front, it quickly became Martin vs Bezzecchi. Lap 3 belonged to the latter, the Italian cut the gap by a sizeable 0.5s, with Bagnaia dropping to two seconds off the P1 fight. Binder vs Viñales was raging on and on Lap 6 of 13, a move finally stuck for the #33. Next on his radar: KTM stablemate Pedrosa.
With five laps to go, Martin’s gap to Bezzecchi was up to 0.8s as Pedrosa reeled in Bagnaia in by 0.4s. Binder was making ground but he wasn’t taking chunks out of the pair just up the road, the gap to try and bridge was hovering at around one second.
With two laps left in the Tissot Sprint, a two-horse race for P3 became a three-horse race. Binder was right with Bagnaia and Pedrosa, knowing gaining points on Pecco is absolutely crucial. Considering what happened less than a week ago, however, the reigning Champion was riding unbelievably to keep the KTMs behind as the last lap began.
Martin led by a second over Bezzecchi as we strapped in for a KTM vs Bagnaia scrap for the final podium place. Halfway around the lap, Pecco was holding on. Binder was out of shape; Pedrosa was waiting to pounce. A headshake down the back straight cost Pedrosa time and despite the efforts of the orange bikes, Pecco just held on to claim P3 behind Martin and Bezzecchi taking the chequered flag in P1 and P2 respectively.
The points scorers on Saturday
Behind the rostrum lock out for the top three in the title fight, a dream podium wasn’t to be on Saturday but Pedrosa rolled back the years again to claim a wonderful P4, with Binder crossing the line 0.159s off the ‘Little Samurai’ in P5 after a belting comeback. Viñales grabbed P6 ahead of Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) and Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), the latter in P9 picking up the final Sprint point in Misano. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) initially got his elbows out in that fight but came home in P10, just missing out on a point.
It was all go in the fight for the Moto2™ pole position at Misano, and it’s a home hero on top: Celestino Vietti (Fantic Racing). Hot laps, traffic, and yellow flags all played a crucial role in deciding the grid at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, and Vietti’s 1:36.201 was enough to deny Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by 0.080s. The Spaniard also had his fastest laps scrubbed off. Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Mastercamp) added to the Moto2™ Misano spectacle as he fought his way through Q1 to take a first front row.
It all got very hectic in Q2 with fast laps flying in and yellow flags seeing laps cancelled for some of the front runners. Acosta put down a 1:36.1 but had that lap taken away from him. The Spaniard then responded by setting a 1:36.281 as the new benchmark, but it didn’t take long before home hero Vietti – who also had a lap cancelled earlier on – moved the goalposts again though. Acosta was then on another flyer setting red sectors through the first two splits. The Spaniard then found himself held up in the final sector but was forced to settle for second.
Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) just missed out on the front row by only 0.003s as he’s set to head the second row ahead of wildcard Mattia Pasini (Fieten Olie Racing GP) and Alonso Lopez (+Ego Tools Speed Up). Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) will head Row 3 in P7 and will be joined by Sam Lowes (Elf MarcVDS Racing Team) and Tony Arbolino (Elf MarcVDS Racing Team). Arbolino still remains Acosta’s closest title threat, and despite struggling for form in San Marino has made some positive steps after battling through Q1.
Filip Salac (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™) rounded out the top 10, with a late crash from Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) limiting his progress to P14.
Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) will launch from his third pole position of the season after setting a 1:41.638 in Moto3™ Q2 at the Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. Despite a crash, Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) rescued a second place starting slot as Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse) claimed his first front row since 2020 in third.
After cruising through Q1 following a disappointing weekend so far, Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) joined his title rivals in the pole position scrap. And talking of title rivals, Sasaki suffered some early drama as the Japanese rider crashed – unhurt – on his out-lap at Turn 13.
Meanwhile, Masia set the early benchmark in Q2. The Spaniard’s 1:42.183 saw him sit 0.3s clear of the pack in the early exchanges, but it soon changed as Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) climbed to P1 by just over a tenth.
Having pitted and got some quick repairs sorted on his Husqvarna, Sasaki’s first hot lap placed him P8, 0.5s off provisional pole. His second lap was cancelled due to exceeding track limits at the final corner as the rest of the field rumbled out of pitlane for a final three-minute dash for pole.
Moments after Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) went P2, Toba launched himself to P1 as the last laps began. Toba’s time at the summit didn’t last long though as Sasaki snatched provisional pole before Masia moved the goalposts even further. The #5’s time wouldn’t be topped as the Leopard star will start on pole ahead of Japan’s Sasaki and Toba.
Holgado holds onto top 10
Moreira slipped to P4 by the end of the session, he has Öncü and Barcelona winner David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) for company on the second row. David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) salvaged P7 despite a crash. Holgado claimed P8 and the Spaniard will want to make early ground on Sunday, as Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) and Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) complete the top 10.