Aleix Espargaro claims Catalan MotoGP Sprint victory as Bagnaia crashes

Aleix Espargaro claims Catalan MotoGP Sprint victory as Bagnaia crashes

Aleix Espargaro claimed the Catalan MotoGP Sprint win as Francesco Bagnaia made an unforced error on the last lap from the lead.

Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro who hails from Catalonia, benefitted from a final-lap crash by two-time defending world champion Francesco Bagnaia, winning the Catalan MotoGP Sprint.

Espargaro could cap a momentous week by adding the main MotoGP race on Sunday like he did the double last year as he starts on pole. Meanwhile, Marc Marquez recovered from a disappointing 14th place on the grid to take second, with the birthday rookie Pedro Acosta rounding out the podium spots.

Bagnaia and Acosta’s rapid start put the pair ahead into Turn 1 before the Tech3 GasGas KTM rider made an audacious move on the reigning double champion on Lap 2.

Bagnaia had made the holeshot, but eventually got beaten back to fourth by Pedro Acosta, Raul Fernandez, and Brad Binder. He worked his way forwards again, though, as Acosta faded slightly mid-race and after crashes for Fernandez and Binder who were both leading at the time.

Meanwhile, Alex Marquez made a costly mistake on the opening lap to put himself in last, while his brother Marquez rose six places to put himself in eighth.

Bagnaia and Acosta meanwhile, exchanged places multiple times in the opening laps, before an opportunistic move from Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez on the reigning champion elevated the satellite Aprilia rider into contention.

While Fernadez established a lead, he carried slightly too much speed into Turn 10 on Lap 5 which saw a fast crash put him out of contention altogether. Binder overtook Acosta and established a half-second lead before crashing at Turn 5 to add more misery to his weekend.

Bagnaia pulled off an aggressive move in Turn 3 and caught Acosta off guard to take the lead once more, as Espargaro followed through later that same lap.

Bagnaia was back in the lead on lap seven, and managed a half-second margin over Espargaro until the final lap. Then, into turn five, just as Binder had done on lap seven Bagnaia folded the front. Live timing indicated Bagnaia’s lead over Espargaro had grown from 0.7 seconds to 0.9 seconds between turns four and five.

Alex Marquez ran into the side of Johann Zarco on Lap 8 in the final sector, which put the LCR Honda rider out of the race in his third crash of the day.

Miguel Oliveira added further disappointment for Trackhouse despite a promising qualifying as he lost the front of his Aprilia, resulting in a double DNF for the American team. Meanwhile, Marquez battled Acosta hard into Turn 1 on the final lap to go third, but Acosta’s contention for a podium was given a lifeline as Bagnaia lost control of his Ducati in Turn 5 which put him out of the race.

Espargaro’s shaky start proved meaningless as he crossed the line to win the Sprint, with Marquez and Acosta completing the podium.

Championship leader Jorge Martin was one warning away from a punishing long-lap penalty, but settled for a respectable fourth as his championship lead only reduced by one, and increased over 2023 champion Bagnaia by six points.

Enea Bastianini and Fabio Di Giannantonio were able to finish close behind, with Jack Miller slotting his KTM bike to seventh. Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales was able to gain four places from his qualifying position to finish eighth, while Marco Bezzecchi rose up the ranks to finish ninth.

Fabio Quartararo finished ahead of his former team-mate Franco Morbidelli as Alex Rins was able to recover from the back end of the grid to finish in 12th. Takaaki Nakagami finished as the highest Honda in 13th, with Alex Marquez failing to make amends from his mistakes earlier on in the Sprint to finish 14th.

Joan Mir and Luca Marini followed the Gresini rider for another disappointing outing, with Augusto Fernandez not being able to extract the maximum out of his GasGas KTM in a disappointing 17th.

2024 Catalan MotoGP Sprint Results

PosRiderNat.MotoGP TeamMotoGP BikeTiming
1Aleix EspargaroESPAprilia RacingAprilia RS-GPWIN
2Marc MarquezESPGresini RacingDucati GP230.892
3Pedro AcostaESPRed Bull GasGas Tech3KTM RC161.169
4Jorge MartinESPPrima Pramac RacingDucati GP242.147
5Enea BastianiniITADucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP242.980
6Fabio Di GiannantonioITAPertamina Enduro VR46Ducati GP234.623
7Jack MillerAUSRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC168.084
8Maverick VinalesESPAprilia RacingAprila RS-GP8.245
9Marco BezzecchiITAPertamina Enduro VR46Ducati GP238.643
10Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Energy YamahaYamaha YZR-M19.241
11Franco MorbidelliITAPramac RacingDucati GP249.537
12Alex RinsESPMonster Energy YamahaYamaha YZR-M113.045
13Takaaki NakagamiJAPIdemitsu Honda LCRHonda RC213V13.199
14Alex MarquezESPGresini RacingDucati GP2313.378
15Joan MirESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V16.438
16Luca MariniITARepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V18.000
17Augusto FernandezESPRed Bull GasGas Tech3KTM RC1625.262
18Stefan BradlGERTeam HRCHonda RC213V33.751
DNFFrancesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP24DNF
DNFBrad BinderRSARed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16DNF
DNFRaul FernandezESPTrackhouse RacingAprilia RS-GPDNF
DNFMiguel OliveiraPORTrackhouse RacingAprilia RS-GPDNF
DNFJohann ZarcoFRACastrol Honda LCRHonda RC213VDNF

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