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Bagnaia makes Martin pay with win in Indonesia

Monday, 16 October 2023

Pecco Bagnaia capitalised on a massive blunder by fellow Ducati rider Jorge Martin in Lombok, the reigning world champion reclaiming the series lead after Martin crashed from the front in a dramatic second visit by MotoGP™ to Indonesia.

Reigning world champion Pecco Bagnaia capitalised on a gift by fellow Ducati rider Jorge Martin in Sunday’s Indonesian Grand Prix, the Italian coming through from 13th on the grid to reclaim the MotoGP™ series lead after Martin crashed from a commanding lead.

Martin, who won Saturday’s 13-lap Sprint with ease to take the championship lead for the first time in his career, came into Sunday’s Grand Prix on a run of six victories from the past seven races across the San Marino, India and Japanese events.


With Bagnaia buried in the pack, the Prima Pramac Racing rider made a jack-rabbit start to lead at the first corner from sixth on the grid, and bolted to a three-second advantage before falling at Turn 11 on lap 13 of 27, his first non-score in a Grand Prix since round three in Austin in April.

Bagnaia, who used an aggressive opening lap to jump to sixth by lap two, then inflicted the maximum damage to Martin by hunting down and passing Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) for the lead with seven laps left, and then managing his tyre life as the laps ticked down on a sweltering afternoon in Lombok to repel Vinales and a fast-finishing Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), the three riders covered by just four-tenths of a second at the chequered flag.

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Bagnaia’s 17th MotoGP™ win – which came from his worst qualifying effort since the beginning of the 2022 season – saw him leave Indonesia with an 18-point championship lead, an unthinkable scenario after he came to Indonesia holding a three-point advantage and with minimal momentum after not winning a Sprint or Grand Prix in the preceding four rounds.

The race in oppressive conditions was gruelling and one of survival, just 14 of the 21 starters seeing the chequered flag.

It was the return of the walking wounded in Indonesia, with VR46 Ducati riders Luca Marini (broken left collarbone) and Marco Bezzecchi (who suffered a broken right collarbone in a training accident six days before practice kicked off at Mandalika) two of the riders back competing after significant injuries, and both taking hugely meritorious Sprint podiums (Marini second, from his maiden MotoGP™ pole, and Bezzecchi third). Marini was taken out of Sunday’s race by KTM’s Brad Binder on the second lap, while Bezzecchi finished fifth to keep his flickering title chances alive.

Ducati’s Enea Bastianini (eighth on Sunday) returned to action after missing three weekends from left ankle and left hand fractures in Catalunya, while LCR Honda’s Alex Rins (ninth) was finally back on track after breaking his right leg at the Italian Grand Prix in June.

Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez, who broke four ribs in a crash in India, rode in Friday practice in Indonesia, but was in too much discomfort and withdrew from the remainder of the event.

Aussie watch

Jack Miller held firm after a mid-race scare looked set to undo his earlier good work on Sunday in Lombok, the Australian finishing in seventh place and holding off Ducati’s Enea Bastianini for the final four laps.

From 10th on the grid, the KTM rider utilised the grip of his soft tyre and employed plenty of patience to move up to fourth place on lap 15 as others faltered, but several front-end scares on lap 18 saw his slim chances of a podium push fade as he was passed by KTM teammate Brad Binder and Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi.

Miller fought back against Bastianini after losing seventh to the Italian briefly on lap 24 of 27, eventually finishing two-tenths of a second ahead of his successor at the factory Ducati team to bank nine world championship points.

On Saturday, Miller held off Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira in the 13-lap Sprint to finish ninth and earn another point, ensuring he maintained his ninth place in the championship standings.

In Moto3™, Joel Kelso finished a frustrating one place outside of the points for the third time in 13 starts this season, the 20-year-old coming home in 16th place after spending the first half of the race battling at the back-end of the front group.

The sweltering hot conditions at Mandalika – the air temperature hit 35 degrees at 11am local time with the track temperature 58 degrees at the start of the race – took their toll on Kelso, who admitted his pre-race hydration wasn’t enough as he struggled over the second half of the 20-lap distance.

After dropping to 18th place, Kelso dug in and hauled himself inside the top 15 with a lap to go before being dumped out of the points by GasGas rider Ryusei Yamanaka, missing the points by three-tenths of a second.

Surprise packet

Fabio Quartararo is on track for his worst world championship finishing position in his fifth MotoGP™ season, but the 2021 world champion made a mockery of his 10th-place spot in the standings with an exemplary weekend in Indonesia, qualifying an equal season-best fourth and finishing Sunday’s Grand Prix in third place, just four-tenths of a second from victory.

The Yamaha man was fifth in Saturday’s Sprint, and was even more relentless on Sunday, hunting down Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales in the closing stages before having to settle for a third to match his podiums in Austin and India earlier this season.

Number to know

17: In winning from 13th on the grid, Bagnaia’s victory was the first for a rider who qualified outside of the first four rows in a dry race in 17 years (Marco Melandri won the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix for Honda from 14th on the grid).

Indonesian Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10

  1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 41mins 20.293secs
  2. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +0.306secs
  3. Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) +0.433secs
  4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) +6.962secs
  5. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) +11.111secs
  6. Brad Binder (KTM) +11.228secs
  7. Jack Miller (KTM) +12.474secs
  8. Enea Bastianini (Ducati) +12.684secs
  9. Alex Rins (Honda) +22.540secs
  10. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +30.468secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

  1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 346 points
  2. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 328 points
  3. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 283 points
  4. Brad Binder (KTM) 211 points
  5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 177 points

What's next?

Round 16: Australia (Phillip Island), Oct 20-22