Aleix Espargaro maintains good form to win Catalunya sprint

Aleix Espargaro maintains good form to win Catalunya sprint

Aleix Espargaro maintained perfect form to claim his maiden MotoGP Sprint victory at his home round of the championship at Catalunya in Barcelona.

Espargaro started the race by dropping down to fourth place but quickly bounced back to take the lead and then race away to an impressive victory on home soil.

The 12-lap race started with a light shower on the warm-up lap, but there was no more downpour until the Sprint showdown got under way.

The Aprilia rider seized the lead on lap seven after starting the MotoGP sprint on the front row beside pole-sitter Francesco Bagnaia, and eventually surged ahead pulled off on his own, extending his lead and winning by a margin of slightly under two seconds.

Bagnaia maintained the lead from pole in both of his Red Bull Ring starts a week prior, and he was once more in the lead right off the line in Catalunya. Meanwhile, Jorge Martin’s strong getaway propelled him up to second making a Ducati 1-2 lead, but only for a brief moment.

Maverick Vinales managed to break up the Ducati duo at Turn 1 by maneuvering around the outside of Martin. Then, in Turn 4, Espargaro slammed it down Martin’s inside, making an uncommonly good getaway of his own.

Espargaro then only needed a couple of turns to reclaim to his starting position after overtaking Vinales at Turn 1 on the second lap. Although Bagnaia initially appeared to be creating a gap, it did not take long for Espargaro to effectively catch up to the factory Desmosedici that was leading the race.

Eventually Espargaro successfully executed his move by catching up to Bagnaia on the main straight and outbraking him into Turn 1 as the 12-lap race neared the halfway point with riders coming in behind.

From that point on, Bagnaia had no chance against Espargaro and was soon occupied with fending off Vinales, who had earlier repelled attempts from KTM’s Brad Binder. Vinales trailed Bagnaia closely throughout the final lap but was only able to catch up to him at the finish line, 0.051s later.

Jorge Martin had to recover and move up to fourth place ahead of Binder despite an unsuccessful overtaking effort on Vinales earlier in the race.

RNF Aprilia’s sixth-place finisher Miguel Oliveira was followed by the Ducati trio of Johann Zarco, Marco Bezzecchi, and Enea Bastianini, with Zarco edging Bezzecchi on the final lap.

Marc Marquez advanced as high as seventh in the rankings following an early pass on Oliveira, but his Honda was unable to maintain its position in the top nine for too long.

He ultimately placed 11th, one position behind his brother Alex Marquez (Gresini Ducati), but was still above of all the rival Japanese machines, with Franco Morbidelli leading the Yamaha riders in 15th place.

Jack Miller was off the pace in 16th on the Red Bull KTM and LCR Honda riders Iker Lecuona and Takaaki Nakagami, and Repsol’s Joan Mir were unable to improve on their qualifying results, filling the final three places in 19th, 20th and 21st respectively.

Fabio Quartararo finished in a pitiful 18th place three places behind teammate Franco Morbidelli.

Tech3 Gas Gas rider Pol Espargaro, who crashed out of the race after battling KTM’s Jack Miller, was the only rider to retire from the race.

2023 CATALUNYA MOTOGP, BARCELONA – SPRINT RACE RESULTS

POSRIDERNATTEAMTIME/DIFF
1Aleix EspargaroSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)20m 2.744s
2Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo (GP23)+1.989s
3Maverick ViñalesSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)+2.040s
4Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM (RC16)+2.857s
5Jorge MartinSPAPramac Ducati (GP23)+4.341s
6Miguel OliveiraPORRNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)+4.940s
7Johann ZarcoFRAPramac Ducati (GP23)+6.746s
8Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+6.888s
9Enea BastianiniITADucati Lenovo (GP23)+8.068s
10Alex MarquezSPAGresini Ducati (GP22)+10.380s
11Marc MarquezSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+11.823s
12Luca MariniITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+11.900s
13Fabio Di GiannantonioITAGresini Ducati (GP22)+12.018s
14Raul FernandezSPARNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)+13.284s
15Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+16.207s
16Jack MillerAUSRed Bull KTM (RC16)+16.404s
17Augusto FernandezSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)*+16.534s
18Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+17.147s
19Iker LecuonaSPALCR Honda (RC213V)+18.658s
20Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda (RC213V)+19.080s
21Joan MirSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+19.574s
 Pol EspargaroSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)DNF

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