#IndonesianGP Sunday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) looked to be on the ropes as the sun went down on Saturday at the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia. What was a 66-point advantage over key rival Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) had become a seven-point deficit, and the number 1 had only managed eighth in the Tissot Sprint – from a P13 on the grid he would face for the Grand Prix race too. Martin, meanwhile, had streaked away to a fourth Sprint win on the bounce, the rider on form in every way. But Sunday was not, as it turned out, a day to defend for Bagnaia.
From lights out the number 1 was off on a mission, making quick work of the journey up into third. From there, he was chasing Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) as Martin disappeared into the lead, and then came the truly pivotal moment of the Grand Prix. After achieving near perfection of late and taking that hard-fought lead on Saturday, the number 89 suddenly slid out at Turn 11 – leaving an open goal for Bagnaia. The reigning Champion didn’t miss, but he most definitely had to work hard for it – getting past Viñales late on before the Aprilia and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) both homed right in at the final corner.
Still, Pecco held on to leave a tough weekend at Mandalika with an 18-point lead as Viñales and Quartararo followed him home in the closest podium of the season so far. Pivotal? It could well prove so. It was also historic as Bagnaia became the first rider to win after qualifying off the front four rows in a dry race since the 2006 Turkish GP!
And we’re off!
As the lights went out in Indonesia, Martin got the race start of all race starts as he shot into the lead from sixth on the grid. The Spaniard was absolutely flying too as he led the way from Viñales, already a few bike lengths clear, with Quartararo holding on in third.
Martin and Viñales began to check out as a queue started to build up behind Quartararo, but Bagnaia had been given the wake-up call on Sunday morning as he came out of the gates ready to race and carved his way through the riders ahead, climbing up from 13th on the grid to third by the start of Lap 3.
The early shuffles
The drama was initially elsewhere. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) crashed out, rider ok, and then Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) went for a pickpocket on Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), but the South African made contact and the Italian slid out. Binder was given a Long Lap for it, and Marini did rejoin at least to do his he’d earned a few races ago.
The race then began to settle, but Martin was pulling the pin in the lead and breaking away from Viñales. Fastest lap after fastest lap came in from the number 89, the Pramac putting down a pace that no other could match as he went 2.7s clear of Viñales with 17 laps remaining.
They say to always expect the unexpected in motorcycle racing, however, and that statement proved itself true in MotoGP™ as Martin went from hero to zero in a matter of seconds. A costly mistake at Turn 11 saw his Prima Pramac Ducati bounce through the Indonesian gravel trap and that was that for this Grand Prix – with Bagnaia left with an open goal and now, only one machine ahead of him: Viñales.
Bagnaia on the charge
Viñales may not have yet taken that win with Aprilia, but he’s no stranger to the top step and Bagnaia had to be patient to pull the number 12 back to within striking distance. The Italian took small chunks out of the Spaniard and slowly but surely was edging closer and closer.
As the reigning Champion got within touching distance, he didn’t waste time. It was a tense contest to watch but it didn’t seem it for those involved, with Pecco putting in a perfectly calculated move at Turn 10 to take the lead with 8 laps to go. From there, he started to ask big questions of Viñales on the chase.
In the meantime, all eyes were on Quartararo, who was still third but running faster than both riders ahead of him. And a LOT faster. It only took the 2021 World Champion a couple of laps to reel in Viñales, but passing him was going to prove to be a much tougher task.
They held station, but the race was far from over as both started to edge closer to Bagnaia. By two laps to go, we had three nationalities on three different manufacturers scrapping it out for victory – with the Championship leader and a little history on the line.
As the last lap started, it looked like Bagnaia had enough in hand. But the tension rose and rose as the Aprilia and the Yamaha steamrollered the gap, almost within striking distance by the final two corners. But neither could quite make a move and the Ducato crossed the line for a pivotal and historic win, with Bagnaia becoming the first rider to win from outside the top four rows in a dry race since Marco Melandri at the 2006 Turkish GP.
The full picture
All the talk heading into the weekend was about the Gresini Racing MotoGP™ team, and just as the Italian team signed Marc Marquez for the 2024 season, the very rider he replaced pulled out his best ride in the premier class. Fabio Di Giannantonio put on an impressive display to take 4th place, just +6.962s away from the victory, and four seconds up the road from proven race winner Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) as the number 72 raced through the pain barrier following that collarbone surgery last weekend.
Meanwhile, Binder watch. After the Long Lap following contact with Marini, the South African then committed a second offence as he got a little too close for comfort to Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) and the Portuguese rider was forced well wide. That was a second Long Lap, but Binder still got stuck in to come back through to P6. Teammate Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was just over a second back in seventh as he managed to get the better of the returning Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) who had run off track earlier in the race.
Alex Rins (LCR Honda) was another who returned from injury. Ninth place was a positive result for the Spaniard as he finished eight seconds clear of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) who, after a strong start going with Quartararo, dropped right down the order to P10.
Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) put in an inch-perfect performance at the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia as he edged closer to his second World Championship and first in the intermediate class. Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) tried all he could to challenge the Championship leader but was unable to keep the pace as he had his hands full trying to keep Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools SpeedUp) at bay. The SpeedUp rider went on take 3rd place behind his fellow Spaniards.
Canet was sat on pole position as the revs were rising ahead of lights out in Mandalika. The race got underway and it was a good start for your polesitter, but cat-like reactions coupled with Turn 1 bravery saw Championship leader Acosta snatch the holeshot from the front of row two.
A Turn 1 collision between Jeremy Alcoba (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™), Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp) and Alberto Surra (Forward Team) saw the latter both go down and Alcoba earn two Long Laps, but there was less drama at the front.
Canet latched himself onto Acosta in the opening stages as Manuel Gonzalez(Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team) had his hands full with Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) as he tried to defend third place.
Lap by lap though, Acosta was now pulling away from Canet and Arbolino made his move on Gonzalez with 19 laps to go. But it wasn’t long before Aldeguer pushed his way through on the both of them to fly his way into podium contention. The Boscoscuro rider pulled away from the pair as he left them to fight it out for the scraps.
With 10 laps remaining Acosta had checked out with almost a 1.5s lead. The Spaniard was untouchable at the front as he hit his markers and set a blistering pace to take the victory by 2.044s.
That left Canet in a lonely 2nd place, but with Aldeguer making consistent inroads on his compatriot. Meanwhile, Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) had joined Arbolino and Gonzalez in the battle for fourth.
A mistake from the Brit then saw him lose touch with the battle, with Gonzalez now putting bike lengths into Arbolino. Up ahead though, with the chequered flag nearing, Aldeguer was making inroads on Canet as the hunt for P2 was on.
The Valencian had enough in the tank to pull the pin in the closing stages however and quickly responded to take 2nd place, 2.672s up the road from Aldeguer who rounded out the podium.
The Dixon vs Arbolino scrap raged on as the Brit recovered his time lost with 2 laps remaining and capitalised on a mistake from the Italian to demote him to P6. Dixon then had the bit between his teeth on the final lap as he chased down the distant Gonzalez to snatch 4th place from the Spaniard just moments before the flag.
Epic action and a maiden victory were the main ingredients for a classic Moto3™ race at the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia. Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) took his first Grand Prix victory after fending off the big hitters in an intense race-long scrap for the win. David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) was also in the mix as he got elbows out to take second place in an epic last lap scrap with David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports), who rounded out the podium. Moreira’s victory is the first Grand Prix win for a Brazilian rider in any class since Alex Barros won at the 2005 Portuguese GP!
There was drama before the riders even lined up on the grid in Indonesia as Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) hit the deck on the sighting lap. The IntactGP team then rushed to get the Japanese rider’s Husqvarna ready to race and did manage to get it done in time.
The lights then went out and Moreira took the hole shot through Turn 1 but the nightmare continued for Sasaki, who struggled off the line and dropped all the through to the back of the pack.
The typical Moto3™ freight train then formed as Moreira led the way. The Brazilian had his hands full with the likes of Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP), Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Alonso, and Championship leader Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) with several other Moto3™ big hitters keeping themselves in contention.
It was an all-out war on the circuit as the gloves were off and the riders proceeded to swap and change positions with the laps ticking away.
Whilst the battle raged on, a shortcut from Holgado wasn’t received lightly by the stewards as the Spaniard flew past Moreira to take the lead with seven laps to go.
The Tech3 rider saw red after taking his tour through the Long Lap loop. Now down in P10, Holgado bit the screen and pushed on to set the fastest lap of the race as he carved his way through the pack. With two laps to go Holgado hit the front again.
The last lap quickly came around and it was Moreira who led the way as he had Muñoz, Holgado, and Alonso directly in his rear view, with Masia also keeping himself in contention.
The group swapped paintwork and bashed bars as the lap went on and the Brazilian also had a scare as he exceeded track limits – but he then dropped anchor, let Holgado very purposefully past, and then tucked back in. In other words: a ready made case study in exactly what to do. And he was still glued right to the number 96’s rear wheel, so he attacked again – and held it for that stunning maiden win.
A brilliant last-corner move from Alonso consolidated his second place as he demoted Muñoz to the final rostrum spot, with two rookies – Veijer and Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – taking fourth and fifth.
Holgado? He was relegated to P14 after failing to take the last Long Lap in time, gaining a time penalty in lieu. Championship leader Masia is therefore even more so as he finished in P6 in the Mandalika mayhem, and with his closest rival Sasaki failing to recover from his early race drama in 18th, the Spaniard extends his lead to 16 – with Holgado still in the hunt 17 adrift.