Aleix Espargaro won the FIM MotoGP World Championship race Sunday at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, in Spain. Riding his factory Aprilia RS-GP, the Spaniard won the restarted 23-lap race by just 0.377 second.
Espargaro’s Aprilia teammate Maverick Vinales was the runner-up, and Jorge Martin finished third, 2.831 seconds behind Espargaro, on his Prima Pramac Racing Ducati Desmosedici.
The race was marred by two incidents on the original start. First, several riders crashed in a chain-reaction incident in Turn One. Then seconds later, Francesco Bagnaia highsided coming out of Turn Two and his right leg was run over by another rider.
Crashers between the two incidents included Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini, Marco Bezzecchi, Brad Binder, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Alex Marquez, and Johann Zarco.
Bagnaia and Bastianini did not make the restart. Bagnaia was taken to a local hospital to get more detailed scans of his injured leg.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Aleix grabs victory in an Aprilia duel after early drama in Barcelona
The “Captain” overhauls Viñales, Martin takes third after early race drama sees Bagnaia suffer huge highside out the lead but escape relatively unscathed
Sunday, 03 September 2023
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) made history at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya as he led a historic Aprilia 1-2 over the line. Teammate Maverick Viñales led for much of the race before being caught, stalked and then passed by his teammate, but it marked a milestone day for the Noale factory. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) completed the podium.
Before that, drama on a first start saw a multiple-rider crash at Turn 1, right before a highside out the lead for reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team). Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) couldn’t avoid the #1 fully but after examination at the medical centre and the General Hospital of Catalunya, Bagnaia was confirmed to have suffered no fractures in the incident.
Unfortunately, teammate Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) was found to have injured his hand and ankle in the Turn 1 crash, and he was penalised for his part in the incident too. Bagnaia’s highside and the incident at Turn 1 saw the Red Flag come out and the race restart with neither lining up on the grid.
A dramatic first start
As the lights went out for the first time, Bastianini went a bit too hot into Turn 1 and had nowhere to go as the field tipped in. The Italian caught the rear end of Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) seeing them both go down and ending in a multi-rider pile-up at the Turn 1 gravel trap, including Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and both Gresini machines of Alex Marquez and Fabio Di Giannantonio.
Just seconds later Bagnaia’s crash happened just a few metres ahead. On the exit of Turn 2 the Italian highsided out, with most avoiding both man and machine and only Binder caught up, also crashing out. That confirmed a red flag for the first start as both Bagnaia and Bastianini were then taken to the medical centre.
Pressing the reset button
With pole position empty and no Bagnaia, Martin took the holeshot this time around but Viñales came out the blocks guns blazing too, hitting the front quickly with a firm first-lap move. The number 12 led the way ahead of Martin, with Aleix Espargaro sitting in third with his hands full with Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team).
Viñales began to stretch out a few bike lengths on Martin as Aleix Espargaro was determined to make sure his teammate didn’t break away and proceeded to push his way past Martin with 21 laps to go. Oliveira then decided to strike whilst the iron was hot and followed, moving up into third to create a historic Aprilia 1-2-3.
Lap by lap, Aleix Espargaro bridged the gap to his teammate, stalking him once he arrived on the scene.
Just behind, Oliveira was unable to hold onto the factory duo, and the Portuguese rider started to fade back into the clutches of Martin. The Pramac rider pounced on the RNF machine with 14 laps remaining.
After piling on the pressure, Aleix Espargaro then dropped back a few tenths after a mistake with 12 laps to go. But the number 41 dug back in and inched his way back onto the rear wheel of Viñales up ahead, setting up another shot at taking over in front.
With four laps to go, Aleix Espargaro then made his move. Side by side along the main straight, he then pounced on Maverick at Turn 1 and parked his RSGP up this inside of the #12. Brutal, fair, or both at once, Viñales was sent wide and through the long lap loop as Aleix pulled away in the lead.
The roles were now reversed, with Viñales on the back foot once back on track and looking to home back in on the lead. It looked impossible, then implausible, but by the final lap the number 12 was starting to get close enough to cause his teammate a sweat if he’d had a rear view mirror. But the metres were running out, and Aleix Espargaro kept it cool and collected under the pressure to shoot over the line and make some serious amends for his 2022 lap count mistake. Viñales, although not on the top step, made it a truly historic day for Aprilia as he came up just 0.377s short in second for that 1-2.
Martin crossed the line in a lonelier third place, off the Aprilias but ahead of his teammate Johann Zarco two seconds back in fourth. Oliveira slipped down to fifth place by the time the chequered flag came out, with a battle for sixth place being won by Alex Marquez a further 3 seconds back.
The Spaniard got the better of Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who finished in seventh and eighth respectively. Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) bagged P9 with a last gasp move on Fabio Di Giannantionio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), who rounded out the top 10.
Luca Marini won a duel against teammate Bezzecchi for P11, just ahead of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Binder was a notable retirement, suffering a technical issue and DNF after the restart.
At the head of the field, it was a weekend to remember for Aleix Espargaro and for Aprilia Racing. Not only did Aleix take both the Tissot Sprint and Grand Prix victories, but the Noale manufacturer came away with both their factory machines securing top 3 finishes in both events. MotoGP™ now turns its attention to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in Italy for the Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini from the 8th – 10th of September.
Dixon fends off Canet for statement win
The duel for the win goes to the wire as Moto2™ delivers a classic in Catalunya
Jake Dixon (Asterius GASGAS Aspar Team) showed he means business in the title fight as he put in a Moto2™ masterclass to take victory at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. The Brit was involved in a race-long tussle with Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) and Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), but Acosta dropped back from the podium fight as Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) emerged in a late charge to take third in the closing stages.
The lights went out in Barcelona and it was Dixon who held the lead through the first sector from pole. The Brit led the opening laps as he had Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Master Camp) and Canet for company. Gonzalez then took over the lead with 17 laps remaining whilst Acosta was climbing up the order after starting from ninth on the grid.
Acosta joined the leading trio with twelve laps to go. Canet then took the lead from Gonzalez into Turn 1 as Acosta snatched third from Dixon. However, it wasn’t long before the Championship leader made his move on Gonzalez with Dixon following pursuit shortly after.
Whilst the top three continued to scrap it out, Gonzalez had fallen into the clutches of Arenas, who demoted his compatriot to fourth and latched on to the leading trio.
The gloves were off with five laps remaining as Acosta, Canet and Dixon swapped and changed positions. Acosta then began to fade as the Spaniard dropped back to fifth behind Gonzalez and Arenas, but it soon went from bad to worse for the Championship leader as the Spaniard ran off at Turn 1 and was forced to run go through the long lap loop and rejoin behind Sergio Garcia (Pons Wegow Los40), down in sixth.
The group had stretched out on the penultimate lap as Dixon led Canet, with Arenas in a distant third, and as the last lap started, it was clear it would be a straight shoot-out for victory between Dixon and Canet.
The Brit went defensive into Turn 1 as he could feel the Spaniard breathing down his neck, and held it round the first sectors. He also had his line covered into Turn 10 as they barrelled into the final sector, with Canet then getting squiggly and losing a few metres. The Spaniard seemed to consider a move at the final corner, but Dixon had it covered once again for a second Grand Prix win.
Canet was forced to settle for second, with Arenas taking third and that first podium in the class. Garcia made serious progress to make it up to fourth, with Gonzalez then managing to fend off Acosta for fifth. The Championship leader took sixth.
Closest rival Tony Arbolino (Elf MarcVDS Racing Team), however, concluded a tougher weekend with no points. Acosta now leads the Italian by 22 points with Dixon another 22 back in 3rd.
The attention now turns to Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in Italy where Acosta will be fully aware of title threats coming from both the home hero Arbolino and the on-form Dixon. Get ready for more Moto2™ action at the Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini from the 8th – 10th of September!
Alonso back on top as Holgado crashes and Öncü gets into a final corner tangle
The Colombian bounces back in style ahead of Masia, with Rueda taking a maiden podium as key title contenders suffer drama in Barcelona
Moto3™ delivered an absolute barnstormer in Barcelona as there was action everywhere you looked on the final lap, and plenty of drama too. David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) took the spoils by just 0.076s after an incredible final corner overtake saw three riders squeezed up onto the apex, with Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) taking second but bringing home 20 crucial points as Championship leader Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) crashed out earlier on the last lap.
Classified third, Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) picked up his first Grand Prix podium after a final corner clash ahead saw Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) make contact with David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports), earning the Turkish rider a penalty dropping him from P3 to P12. Amidst it all, Ayumu Sasaki’s (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) podium run may have come to an end as he took P4… but given Holgado’s crash the Japanese rider is now just 13 points off the top.
Öncü took the holeshot as he snatched the lead from Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) into Turn 1. Joel Kelso (CFMoto Racing Pruestel GP) stayed firm in P3 at first, until Masia eagerly pushed his way through as they barrelled into the final sector for the first time.
It didn’t take long for Masia to take the lead as he slotted up the inside of Öncü with 16 laps remaining to lead the freight train, and the battle for victory began to take shape with a gaggle of riders snapping at the Leopard rider’s heels.
The group proceeded to swap paintwork and bang handlebars as a mix of fresh talent and proven Moto3™ big hitters got their elbows out. Holgado hit the front with 12 laps to go and a pattern began to form as Öncü, Masia, and Holgado consistently kept themselves in the top 3 despite challenges from the chasing pack.
Alonso, Muñoz, and Rueda all fancied their chances as they kept themselves consistently in the hunt, making some big moves in the leading group, with Sasaki the key player in the title fight looking set to lose ground – at that point.
Holgado led across the line to begin the last lap before Masia charged through from fourth to the lead, but when the last sector came around, the gloves came off as chaos unfolded. They were four abreast down into the hard braking Turn 10, and Masia defended as Alonso, Muñoz, and Öncü were all looking for a way through.
Masia ran wide allowing Alonso and Muñoz past, meaning it was all down to the final corner. But disaster then came for Holgado as he lost the at front Turn 10, with his title rivals still very much in the leading battle.
Back at the front, Muñoz led into the last turn as they went three abreast into a corner once deemed impossible to make an overtake. Now, it was going to be a double.
Alonso dived up the inside of Muñoz as Masia also tried to squeeze through, and both riders did make it stick. Alonso came out on top and held the victory to the line ahead of Masia. But just behind came the drama.
After losing out in those moves, Muñoz lost drive onto the front straight and Öncü was coming through the final corner. The Turk kept in pinned and then made contact with Muñoz… seeing the Spaniard bumped off and out into the gravel on the outside of the corner. Rider ok, drama still not done. Öncü crossed the line in 3rd but a 6s penalty for the last-corner incident demoted the number 53 to 12th place… promoting Rueda, who’d been right on their tail, to his first Grand Prix podium.
Behind all that came Sasaki, who was ultimately classified fourth to move within just 13 points of Holgado’s lead, and a little further back, Masia moves above Öncü. Which way will the cards fall next time out? Find out at the Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini next up from the 8th -10th of September!