The first MotoGP race in India was won by a plethoric Jorge Martín who won very well to the current world champion and leader of the contest Pecco Bagnaia. On the podium of the sprint race on Saturday they were accompanied by a Marc Márquez who was surprised with the performance of the Honda in the unprecedented circuit of Buddh, an exotic destination that despite raising many doubts during the previous has finally convinced the pilots for its combination of technique and fun.
Martin, who had just won everything in Misano, continued to cut crumb by crumb the distance that separates him from his great rival and Ducati reference, now 33 points. The third in discord, the very fast Marco Bezzecchi, signed the first pole position of the circuit and was the fastest in a race that ruined him in the first braking his teammate Luca Marini. After falling to 17th position because of the friendly touch, he came back like a hurricane and had to settle for a creditable fifth place after chaining several fast laps of record before crossing the finish line hundredths of Brad Binder. The South African KTM rider moved from 13th to fourth place with another remarkable comeback.
MotoGP pushes riders to the limit
The test distance was shortened by a turn due to the heat and the numerous challenges of the first Indian weekend on two wheels. A tropical downpour forced the addition of a wet free rehearsal session and delayed Saturday's schedule by almost an hour and a half. Finally, he survived the sunset, the monkeys in the garage and other mishaps such as the exhaustion of the stewards due to lack of water or the bureaucratic problems that forced several teams and drivers, including Joan Mir and Marc Márquez, to delay their arrival at the grand prix.
The great novelty of the calendar matched the performance of the factories and placed the Japanese bikes in the ointment thanks to the talent of their world champions. Mir, fifth, and Marquez, sixth, signed the best grid classification as a team all year. The Mallorcan, however, lost control of the bike on the fourth lap and finished what promised to be the best Saturday of the year with a bitter taste. The 2020 champion was fighting one-on-one with his teammate for the podium and it had been a long time since he felt that adrenaline rush of being at the head of the race.
MARTINATOR! MARTINATOR AGAIN! 💥
His FOURTH sprint win of the season 🙌 puts @88jorgemartin within 33 points of Bagnaia overall!#IndianGP 🇮🇳 #MotoGP 🏁 pic.twitter.com/H1M0fJ5mNP
— DAZN Spain (@DAZN_ES) September 23, 2023
"When you arrive at a new circuit, talented drivers make the difference," Marquez said. Despite extolling the value of his hands, with express mention of those of Mir and Fabio Quartararo – eighth on the grid and sixth in the sprint – the Cervera could not help but look sideways at his machine. He had just achieved the second podium of the year, twelve grands prix after his explosive start to the course in Portugal. "I know that at one lap I am very fast, but today I was surprised, the pace was not too bad," he said while still debating whether or not to fulfill his contract with Honda in 2024.
He was sharp and plugged in, and recognized that he was too close to the limit with his mount. "Better not to think about it too much," he conceded, delighted to be able to celebrate and fish for a podium thanks to the friendly fire between the Ducati of the VR46. The long race will be another story if Bezzecchi, the fastest so far, manages to stay in the top positions after the start. The battle for the title between Bagnaia, Martin and Bez, in addition to the unexpected starring role of the Honda, will animate the first Indian GP that takes place this Sunday (12:00 hours, DAZN).
The demand of this final stretch of the calendar – with eight grands prix in 10 weekends – has already claimed its first two victims. Álex Márquez fractured three ribs after suffering a spectacular fall in the first qualifying round and could not participate in the test, while Marini took the brunt of the chaos of the first corner and fractured his left collarbone. The brother of Valentino Rossi will not be able to run this Sunday, and must also serve a long-lap penalty for the onslaught on his teammate in the next race he plays. It is very likely that both will not be able to race in Japan next weekend, adding to the already known casualties of Alex Rins and Enea Bastianini.
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