Bastianini makes a comeback win at Sepang as Bagnaia extends championship lead

Bastianini makes a comeback win at Sepang as Bagnaia extends championship lead

Enea Bastianini delivered an impressive performance to win his first race at the Malaysian MotoGP as Francesco Bagnaia extended his lead over Jorge Martin in the battle for the title.

Starting from the third position on the grid, Bastianini made a strong start and challenged the leaders heading into Turn 1. Martin’s attempt to pass pole-sitter Bagnaia on the entry to the bend made Bagnaia’s challenge easier.  

The Pramac Ducati rider, however, ran both wide, allowing Bastianini and Saturday’s Malaysian MotoGP Sprint winner Alex Marquez to pass. Title rivals Bagnaia and Martin finished third and fifth, respectively.

From that point on, Bastianini maintained a strong pace while simultaneously protecting his Michelin rubber, allowing the factory Ducati rider to dominate the proceedings at the lead.

Alex Marquez gained the most ground on the first lap moving up to second place as a comfortable lead from the Championship rivals was whittled down by Bastianini and Marquez.

With a track temperature of 46 degrees and twice the distance, the tires were up for debate prior to the race. As a result, for the main race, every team selected the medium-medium tire option.

Throughout the race, Bastianini’s lead fluctuated between one and two seconds over Marquez; in the end, the Factory Ducati crossed the finish line 1.5 seconds ahead of the Gresini and secured his first victory of the year.

Marquez finished a strong weekend in second place, at least managing to repel any attack from Bagnaia, even though he was unable to challenge Bastianini for the lead.

Bagnaia’s surge to third place ensured that his lead in points was extended to 14 with only two races left. The reigning world champion in the premier class left Malaysia ahead of Martin by one point more than when he arrived, as Martin only finished fourth.

Martin lost his grip during the second half of the race and had to settle for a respectable margin behind the podium fight. Early on, he made a few attempts to pass Bagnaia, but finally started to lose ground.

Fabio Quartararo finished in the top five for Yamaha after having an encore performance on Sunday than he had on Saturday. The Frenchman took good care of the rubber on his M1 to regain a few positions in the closing stages of the race.

VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi seized sixth position, ahead of Franco Morbidelli on the sister Yamaha as the Italian finished seventh by edging Jack Miller on the KTM.

The Australian finished eighth, ahead of Fabio Di Gianantonio on the second Gresini bike. Luca Marini riding the sister VR46 Ducati wrapped up the top ten.

After a challenging weekend for Aprilia, Maverick Vinales finished in 11th place, ahead of Johann Zarco of Pramac while Marc Marquez emerged as the best-placed Honda after finishing in a distant 13th.

This weekend, Alvaro Bautista struggled to maintain his winning ways on the extra factory Ducati entered. The World Superbike champion finished as one of the last riders to avoid crashing in 17th place, followed by Takaaki Nakagami in 18th place after the LCR rider lost control at Turn 9 in the late stages.

Brad Binder was unable to put up a challenge for the rostrum due to an unsatisfactory start that saw him fall from ninth at Turn 11 and eventually finish in tenth place. Aleix Espargaro’s dramatic fall from 13th place just before the halfway mark demonstrated Aprilia’s challenging Malaysian MotoGP event as neither of the RNF Aprilias was able to cross the finish line.

Meanwhile, Joan Mir also called it a day early after the factory Honda rider retired from the race during the opening stages.

2023 Malaysian MotoGP, Sepang Race Results

1Enea BastianiniITADucati Lenovo (GP23)39m 59.137s
2Alex MarquezSPAGresini Ducati (GP22)+1.535s
3Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo (GP23)+3.562s
4Jorge MartinSPAPramac Ducati (GP23)+10.526s
5Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+15.000s
6Marco BezzecchiITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+16.946s
7Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Yamaha (YZR-M1)+18.553s
8Jack MillerAUSRed Bull KTM (RC16)+19.204s
9Fabio Di GiannantonioITAGresini Ducati (GP22)+19.399s
10Luca MariniITAMooney VR46 Ducati (GP22)+19.740s
11Maverick ViñalesSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)+21.189s
12Johann ZarcoFRAPramac Ducati (GP23)+23.598s
13Marc MarquezSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)+27.079s
14Augusto FernandezSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)*+28.940s
15Pol EspargaroSPATech3 GASGAS (RC16)+29.849s
16Iker LecuonaSPALCR Honda (RC213V)+50.960s
17Alvaro BautistaSPAAruba.It Ducati (GP23)+53.564s
18Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda (RC213V)+42.162s
 Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM (RC16)DNF
 Aleix EspargaroSPAAprilia Racing (RS-GP23)DNF
 Raul FernandezSPARNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)DNF
 Miguel OliveiraPORRNF Aprilia (RS-GP22)DNF
 Joan MirSPARepsol Honda (RC213V)DNF

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