Bezzecchi tops the inaugural practice of Indian MotoGP

Bezzecchi tops the inaugural practice of Indian MotoGP

Marco Bezzecchi held the lead throughout Free Practice 1 at the Buddh International Circuit’s inaugural Indian MotoGP World Championship race.

VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi took the lead during the first-ever MotoGP practice session in India at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of Honda’s Marc Marquez.

The historic F1 track, which boasts magnificent banked turns at Turns 8 and 9, a one-kilometer back straight, was dominated by the Italian on his VR46 Ducati with a fastest time of 1:45.990s with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez making an intriguing start to the weekend.

In order to familiarize themselves with the Buddh circuit, the 22 MotoGP riders were given an extended first practice outing lasting 70 minutes, ten more than usual.

As the riders learned how to navigate the challenging five-kilometer course, times gradually dropped throughout the practice. Luca Marini on the VR46 Ducati was the first rider to record a representative lap with 1:47.880s.

Pramac’s Jorge Martin subsequently dropped the benchmark to 1:47.049s and then swiftly broke into the 1:46s, as it appeared that he was the rider making the most progress. However, Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales recorded a 1:46.643s, ending his brief reign at the top of the timesheets but title rival Martin quickly moved back into the session’s lead.

Bezzecchi, however, had been concentrated on discreetly getting around MotoGP’s newest venue. The Italian saved his greatest performance for last, clocking a blistering 1:45.990s in the final moments of the tour. 

Honda’s Marc Marquez came the closest with a late push of his own, but he was still 0.139s short of catching Bezzecchi. However, the Italian’s final gamble finally proved unstoppable for the rest of the field.

KTM’s Brad Binder finished third overall, slightly ahead of Raul Fernandez on the RNF Aprilia. The young rider was eager to improve on his encouraging performance from his previous outing at Misano.

Turn 1 turned out to be the hub of activity as most of the field alternated running wide at the corner multiple times throughout Free Practice 1. Binder crashed after running wide at one point, while Aleix Espargaro in particular, as well as several other riders, frequently checked the run-off.

Eventually, Martin fell to fifth place, barely ahead of Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, as Johann Zarco, riding the sister Pramac Ducati, took seventh place, ahead of VR46 Ducati’s Luca Marini.

Fabio Di Gianantonio placed ninth on his Gresini Ducati, while Joan Mir had a strong session for the factory Honda team to round out the top 10.

GasGas’ Augusto Fernandez, LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami, and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro all finished within one second of Bezzecchi in 11th, 12th and 13th respectively.

A significant crash at Turn 1 in the session’s final stretch forced Nakagami to give up running, with the Japanese driver losing the front of his RC213V as he approached the slow turn. Fortunately, Nakagami was unhurt as his bike smashed into the dense gravel and got damaged.

Francesco Bagnaia finished just 15th overall, just over a second off the fastest time. The series leader was just over three tenths of a second ahead of Jack Miller, on the factory KTM.

It was a challenging session for Yamaha as well. Fabio Quartararo demonstrated impressive speed in the early goings of the practice before having his FP1 cut short due to mechanical issues with both of his M1 bikes. He lost control on both incidents, first on the run to Turn 4 early in the session and again when entering Turn 1 on his backup bike.

Quartararo finished the test in a pitiful 19th place, barely behind GasGas’ Pol Espargaro, who crashed twice at Turns 4 and 12, while teammate Franco Morbidelli finished at 21st. The two lap times were respectively 1.5 and 2.1 seconds off the lead.

The first MotoGP rider to crash at the Buddh circuit was Michele Pirro, who is filling in for the injured Enea Bastianini at the factory Ducati squad this weekend.

The Italian tumbled at Turn 5 after running wide onto the filthy run-off area. In the final rankings, he came in at number 20, while Alex Rins’ replacement at LCR, Stefan Bradl, came in at number 22.

Indian MotoGP, Buddh International Circuit Free Practice 1 Results

2023 Indian MotoGP | Buddh International Circuit, India | Race Results | Round 13 of 20
Pos.NameNat.TeamBikeLap Time
1Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 45.990
2Marc Marquez🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 46.129
3Brad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 46.310
4Raul Fernandez🇪🇦CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 46.371
5Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 46.478
6Johann Zarco🇨🇵Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 46.576
7Luca Marini🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 46.609
8Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 46.610
9Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 46.778
10Joan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 46.805
11Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 46.827
12Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V1m 46.966
13Aleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 46.974
14Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 47.017
15Pecco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP231m 47.050
16Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 47.371
17Miguel Oliveira🇵🇹CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 47.419
18Pol Espargaro🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 47.480
19Fabio Quartararo🇨🇵Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 47.514
20Michele Pirro🇮🇹Aruba RacingDucati GP231m 48.028
21Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 48.105
22Stefan Bradl🇩🇪LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V1m 48.745

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