MotoGP: World Championship Race Results From Sepang

MotoGP: World Championship Race Results From Sepang

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

MotoGP Race Results

 

Enea Bastianini (23) held off Alex Marquez (73) to win the MotoGP race at Sepang. Photo by Kohei Hirota.
Enea Bastianini (23) held off Alex Marquez (73) to win the MotoGP race at Sepang. Photo by Kohei Hirota.

 

MotoGP Points after Race

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

#PECCOvsMARTIN: the title fight heats up as Bastianini blasts back to glory

It’s early race fireworks in the title fight, but up ahead Bastianini and Alex Marquez pull clear on Sunday

 

Enea Bastianini (23). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Enea Bastianini (23). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Sunday, 12 November 2023

Pecco vs Martin: it’s official. The fight for the 2023 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship is now a duel, and it’s a duel split by just 14 points as we head into the final two race weekends. It was also an early race duel at Sepang as the two went toe-to-toe in the fight for the podium, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) defending with everything he had against now sole challenger, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing). But that was the fight for third!

Up ahead, Enea Bastianini’s (Ducati Lenovo Team) fantastic return to form continued as the number 23 moved through to the lead, set some absolutely searing pace, and wasn’t to be seen again. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) kept him honest enough, however, with the number 73 following up his Sprint win with another Grand Prix podium.

It was almost three abreast into Turn 1 once the lights went out, with the front row side-by-side. Bastianini played it safe, Bagnaia was on the outside, and it was Martin who let the brakes off – diving up the inside to very briefly take the holeshot. But he was deep and Bagnaia took the chance to try and cut back in, but the #1 wasn’t in the postcode of the apex either. He got back past Martin but Bastianini was already through, as was Alex Marquez.

Pecco held on to third against Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) but Martin wasn’t so lucky, getting shuffled back behind the Italian and left with a little more work to do from fifth.

And so Bastianini led Alex Marquez, with a small but increasing gap back to some stunning early race fireworks. Once Martin was able to get back past Bezzecchi, he was right on the tail of Bagnaia and the teams, factory and grandstands held their breath as the show began.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (1) and Jorge Martin (89) finished third and fourth, respectively, on Sunday. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Francesco Bagnaia (1) and Jorge Martin (89) finished third and fourth, respectively, on Sunday. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

The number 89 was all over the number 1 but he attacked and was denied, attacked and was denied as the two scythed round Sepang near side-by-side. It was stunning, and it could prove important in terms of more than just points. On Sundays when they’ve both seen the flag, the reigning Champion has only finished ahead of Martin once since the Red Bull Ring – on the day of Johann Zarco’s history-making win in Australia. Bagnaia hasn’t beaten Martin in a Sprint since Catalunya. But at Sepang, the reigning Champion also turned the tables in qualifying, nabbing pole from Martin and outqualifying the number 89 for the first time since Barcelona.

From that huge shot of adrenaline though, it became an ebb of tension as the laps ticked down. Bastianini led Alex Marquez, both in some clear air. Bagnaia was in a “safe” third, and Martin a “safe fourth” as the battle behind was the next.

By five laps to go, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) had arrived at Bezzecchi, and this time the Yamaha rider struck quickly, slicing through almost immediately. The he was left trying to hold off the mighty power of the Ducati out the final corner and down the main straight into Turn 1, but it was mission accomplished – Quartararo was up into the top five as Bezzecchi officially dropped out on title contention.

At the front, Bastianini pounded on. With just over a second in hand, sometimes up to 1.5, the Beast was keeping very calm as he carried on – and very, very fast. He crossed the line for his first win since Aragon last year with a second and a half in hand, becoming the seventh different winner this season. Alex Marquez returned to the Grand Prix podium in second, Bagnaia took that vital third, and Martin was forced to settle for fourth to end the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia 14 points adrift. Still, there are 74 left in play.

Quartararo took fifth from Bezzecchi, with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™’s Franco Morbidelli putting on a charge into seventh and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) P8. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was hot on the heels on the Australian, and they had Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) for company too as he completed the top ten. 

Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) and his teammate Pol Espargaro completed the points – with one notable name missing out on some being Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as he crashed out of the battle with Miller and Diggia, rider ok.

That’s it from Sepang and another stunning weekend. Every point is pivotal, and now it’s just 14 of them with 74 to play for. This is it: Pecco vs Martin. One of them will be crowned the 2023 FIM MotoGP™ World Champion… and the first match point comes in Qatar for Bagnaia. So don’t go anywhere… it’s GAME ON next weekend!

PECCO BAGNAIA: “I’m happy overall we managed to find our performance in terms of overall speed. It’s been since Barcelona that I’ve been on pole position so that was very very important. I tried to do everything today but the battle with Bastianini and Jorge made me lose a bit of time and then I tried to push to catch these guys, but it was very very difficult. I tried everything but the most important thing was to finish in front of Jorge without both having any problems. I already beat him in the last races but he was having some issues. This is the first time since Austria that I’ve beat him in the same conditions so I’m happy for that it was very important to do it before Qatar. We managed to finish the weekend with one more point advantage compared to when we started.”

Talk us through the overtakes…

“Jorge was very good on the entrance of Turn 14. That’s where he made the overtake, but he went a little bit wide, so I just tried to cross the line and get in front because it’s very important to not allow him to be in front, also because I wasn’t expecting that his pace was like it was, because then looking at the gap that I opened. I thought that I was arriving to the front the same, but it was very important to win the battle with him and it was also so much fun.

“I tried to go on the outside in Thailand and it didn’t work, so it was important to finally do it. Riding around the outside is always nicer than a normal overtake…”

Thoughts about the championship:

“I think we have to wait until Valencia to know for sure. 14 points are more than nothing but it’s not too much. If it was a normal season with one race it’s a good gap to manage, but with 37 points each weekend it’s not a lot. It’s a very small gap. In Qatar it will be important to work like we did this weekend and try and understand already on Friday and be at the top like we were this weekend. Pole position or to startt in the front will be very important again and try to push like we did today. In Qatar, it will be new for everyone with the new tarmac and tyres so let’s see.”

JORGE MARTIN: “You know I’m a little bit disappointed about the result but that’s the most I could do so let’s move to Qatar and try to reset from this race. I thought I was able to recover some points today. I was feeling great at the beginning of the race, but at some point, I started to lose the front and risk a lot on the right hand corners so I have to be happy with P4. It’s not what I expected, I expected to fight for the podium or for the victory. But it is what it is so let’s move onto the next one.”

At what point did you realise?

“Yeah, after six laps I started to lose ground to Pecco. It was strange because I tried to push to put some pressure on him so maybe he’d make a mistake but I started to be close to crashing so I decided that’s not what I wanted. So that’s the maximum I could do today.”

Qatar next, how much are you looking forward to that?

“Yeah I really like Qatar. I’ve had two pole positions there in the past two seasons and I was on the podium there in my second ever race in MotoGP. I’m really looking forward to it. We have to understand the new tyres for sure but this is a track where I’m always fast.”

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