Jorge Martin won the MotoGP World Championship Sprint Race Saturday at Mobility Resort Motegi, in Japan. Starting from pole position on his Prima Pramac Racing Ducati Desmosedici, the Spaniard won the 12-lap race by 1.390 seconds.
Brad Binder was the runner-up on his Red Bull KTM RC 16, and defending World Champion Francesco Bagnaia finished third on his Lenovo Team Ducati.
The results of the Sprint Race reduced Bagnaia’s lead in the World Championship to just eight points over Martin.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Eight points in it: Martin outruns Binder as Bagnaia vs Miller writes some poetry in the podium fight
It’s getting CLOSE! The Pramac rider’s momentum grows again with another Sprint win as Binder grabs second and Pecco gets the gloves off with Miller
Saturday, 30 September 2023
If Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) wins the Grand Prix race at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) doesn’t follow him home, we’ll have a new Championship leader in MotoGP™ – such is the momentum carried by the number 89, who won the Tissot Sprint at Motegi in style. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was off like a shot to make a good run of it in the early stages, ultimately taking second for some more silverware, with Bagnaia completing the podium after going toe-to-toe in a spectacular duel against former teammate Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
The best start on the front row came from polesitter Martin as he shot forward for the holeshot, with Miller out-dragging Pecco for second as Binder then also managed to slot up the inside of the reigning Champion into third. As ever, the KTMs made it game on early doors.
Binder wasn’t for sitting behind teammate Miller for long though, taking over in second after a brutal but fair move and then tagging onto the rear wheel of Martin. Almost immediately, the two were creating a small but real gap, leaving Miller between that lead duo and another comprising Bagnaia and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
By third race distance, Martin and Binder were starting to pull the pin. Miller was then left looking over his shoulder as Bagnaia homed in, with Marquez also losing ground to the duo ahead of him – making it two duels at the front followed by what was becoming an increasingly close fight for fifth headed by an eight-time World Champion.
On Lap 6, there was a first real move in that fight as Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) attacked and passed Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), the young Italian then able to lock on to Marquez almost immediately. Bezzecchi feinted a couple of moves before committing to a lunge, but ultimately overcooked it and sent both of them wide, letting a fast-starting Zarco back through and allowing Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) to split the duo too.
Up ahead, Martin was on the march by the final few laps, with Binder in a secure second and Bagnaia still wrapped up behind Miller, keenly looking for a way past. He saw one and took it on Lap 9, but the Australian wasn’t having it. And so began a poetic and epic scrap to complete the Sprint podium, with both sideways, squiggly, and absolutely on the limit until a final and decisive move on the penultimate lap saw Miller forced to cede.
The Australian then watched the Ducati just edge out of reach, forced to settle for fourth and forced to keep it pinned thereafter too as a late charge from Zarco started to reel him in.
Just up the road, Martin managed to hold on to just over a second of breathing space ahead of Binder, with the two taking the top two steps on Saturday as Bagnaia came home third to complete the Sprint rostrum. Behind, Miller did manage to hold off Zarco’s late threat, with the Australian taking fourth by a tenth.
After his earlier ambition outweighed track limits when attacking Marquez, Bezzecchi had to get the hammer down get back past and stay ahead, with the eight-time World Champion right back on his rear wheel on the last two laps. A quality final tour ensured the Italian was just able to stay ahead, coming come P6 as Marquez took seventh.
Behind that battle but not by much, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) took his first Sprint points in P8, within a second of Marquez by the flag as his impressive Japanese GP continues. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) took the final Sprint point in P9. Teammate Aleix Espargaro, after fighting for fifth in the early stages, was forced to pull into pitlane and retire.
After all that, it’s just eight points in it at the top as Martin homes in. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a serious title fight! Tune in for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan Sunday showdown 15:00 (GMT +9)!