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Bagnaia wins a classic as KTM makes giant strides in Spain

Monday, 1 May 2023

Ducati's reigning world champion reclaims the series lead with a masterful display, while KTM pair Brad Binder and Jack Miller grab double podiums with storming rides in both races. Ducati's reigning world champion reclaims the series lead with a masterful display, while KTM pair Brad Binder and Jack Miller grab double podiums with storming rides in both races.

Ducati's Pecco Bagnaia reclaimed the MotoGP™ championship lead with a stunning turnaround at Jerez, where the reigning world champion had to progress through Q1 on Saturday to qualify fifth before taking his second victory of 2023 on Sunday.

After Sunday's initial 25-lap race was red-flagged after a second-corner crash between Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia), Bagnaia escaped at the front with KTM paid Brad Binder and Jack Miller, Bagnaia taking the lead from Binder at the final corner with four laps left and holding on to win by two-tenths of a second, Miller finishing just over a second adrift in third place.


The same three riders took to the podium in Saturday's 12-lap Sprint race, Binder beating Bagnaia across the line for his second short-form victory of the season.

Bagnaia's haul of 34 points over the weekend, combined with former championship leader Marco Bezzecchi finishing just ninth in the Sprint and crashing out of the Grand Prix proper, saw the reigning world champion take a handy 22-point lead atop the standings, more than making up for crashing out of the lead of the previous race in Austin.

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Miller took the first two podiums of his tenure at KTM in just his fourth race weekend for the Austrian marque, converting on a strong qualifying effort on Friday that saw him second, just two-tenths of a second behind pole-sitter Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), for his best starting position at the famed Spanish circuit.

Miller made lightning launches on both Saturday and Sunday and led both races, his Saturday stoush with Binder producing plenty of tyre-smoking, sideways moments as the two good mates enjoyed a no-holds-barred battle. Sunday was much the same in the early stages before Binder took top spot on lap four, and Miller was embroiled in a fierce fight with former Ducati teammate Bagnaia for much of the remainder of the Grand Prix, Bagnaia forced to give a place back to Miller on lap eight after the pair made contact at Turn 6 two laps prior.

The haul of points – 23 in two days – almost matched Miller's 26-point tally from the opening three rounds, and saw the Australian jump from 12th to fourth in the overall standings after COTA winner Alex Rins and Ducati's Johann Zarco both crashed out, and Maverick Vinales retired on the final lap after a bizarre incident where the chain came off his Aprilia when he was running in eighth place.

Miller's compatriot Joel Kelso was back in Moto3™ action at Jerez, the 19-year-old competing in his first Grand Prix since breaking his left ankle in round one in Portugal. Kelso was given the all-clear medically after completing FP1 on Friday, advanced to Q2 and lined up in 11th on the grid for the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP squad, and came home in 18th place.

In Moto2™, Senna Agius stepped in at the Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP team in place of injured South African Darryn Binder, the Sydney teenager adding to his four Moto2™ starts from late last season. The 17-year-old, who is riding in the FIM Moto2 European Championship this season, qualified 28th and finished 21st at Jerez.

Surprise packet

It seems strange to call a 31-time MotoGP™ race-winner and three-time championship runner-up a 'surprise packet', but Dani Pedrosa was superb on his return to the grid as a one-off wildcard for KTM, the 37-year-old competing in just his second race since retiring from the sport at the end of 2018. Pedrosa stunned the paddock by being fastest in Friday practice, qualified sixth and finished in the same position in the sprint race, and then was seventh on Sunday, just over six seconds off Bagnaia's race-winning time. Pedrosa was "very happy" about his "unexpected" pace, but Miller wasn't shocked. "He's a legend … he has a corner on this f**king track named after him!" Miller laughed.

Number to know

13: Bagnaia's 13th Grand Prix victory sees the reigning world champion draw level with Max Biaggi for fourth on the all-time premier-class win list for Italian riders; only Giacomo Agostini, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso are now ahead of him.

Spanish Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10

1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 39mins 29.085secs
2. Brad Binder (KTM) +0.221secs
3. Jack Miller (KTM) +1.119secs
4. Jorge Martin (Ducati) +1.942secs
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +4.760secs
6. Luca Marini (Ducati) +6.329secs
7. Dani Pedrosa (KTM) +6.371secs
8. Alex Marquez (Ducati) +14.952secs
9. Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) +15.692secs
10. Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) +15.846secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 87 points
2. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 65 points
3. Brad Binder (KTM) 62 points
4. Jack Miller (KTM) 49 points
5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) 48 points

What's next?

Round 5: France (Le Mans), May 14