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REPORT: Bagnaia goes from zero to hero in Barcelona

Matt Clayton
Monday, 27 May 2024

Pecco Bagnaia kept his name in the championship frame after bouncing back from a massive mistake to win the Catalan GP, while Marc Marquez conjured another escape from a poor qualifying to finish on the podium again.

Pecco Bagnaia took just 24 hours to make amends for a massive blunder at the Catalan Grand Prix, Ducati’s reigning world champion exorcising his Barcelona demons with an emphatic victory to keep his title defence within reach.

Bagnaia crashed out of a comfortable lead on the final lap of a madcap 12-lap Sprint race on Saturday, falling at Turn 5 under no pressure and gifting a win to Aprilia’s home hero Aleix Espargaro, who announced ahead of the race weekend that he’d be retiring at the end of the season.


From second on the grid for the Grand Prix, and with Barcelona’s heat nudging track temperatures towards 50 degrees on a worn surface that’s always slippery, Bagnaia played a patient game as championship leader Jorge Martin (Ducati) and sensational Spanish rookie Pedro Acosta (GasGas) fought for the lead with ferocity in the early stages, Martin escaping when Acosta crashed at Turn 10.

Bagnaia then upped his pace, hunting down Martin and passing him at the same corner where he’d crashed the previous afternoon with six laps remaining and staying the course to win by 1.7secs, banishing a Barcelona hoodoo that had seen him finish no better than sixth in any world championship category.

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Martin, who was an unusually muted fourth in the Sprint, extended his championship lead by two more points over Bagnaia to 39 points with second place.

Behind the front-running pair was Marc Marquez (Ducati), who engineered another great escape after surging to the podium with Bagnaia and Marquez last time out in France from 13th on the grid.

The six-time premier class champion was even worse in qualifying in Barcelona – Marquez began both races from 14th – but backed up his second in the Sprint with a brilliant third in the Grand Prix, utilising the soft Michelin rear tyre to perfection in challenging conditions.

Marquez denied Espargaro a farewell podium double at Montmelo, beating the Aprilia man across the line by 0.052secs after 24 laps.

Sunday’s race came after a wild Sprint where Raul Fernandez (Aprilia), Brad Binder (KTM) and Bagnaia all crashed out of the lead, with Acosta taking third behind Espargaro and Marquez on the podium.

Surprise packet

Gutted as he was to throw away the lead in the Sprint, Raul Fernandez was the shock of the weekend in Barcelona, the Trackhouse Racing Aprilia rider coming to round six in 15th in the world championship, and ending the weekend with 10 world championship points.

The Spaniard was electrifying in qualifying, emerging from Q1 to qualify a career-best third, and finished sixth in Sunday’s Grand Prix for the second-best result of his three-season MotoGP tenure, beaten only by his fifth in last season’s final round in Valencia.

Before Sunday, Fernandez’s best result this season was a 10th place in Texas in round three.

Number to know

32: In seconds, the time penalty applied to Ducati’s Enea Bastianini after the race, after the Italian failed to comply with two long-lap penalties assessed during the race and then failing to serve a ride-through penalty. Ninth at the chequered flag, the time punishment dropped him to 18th place and out of the points.

Catalan Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10

  1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 40mins 11.726secs
  2. Jorge Martin (Ducati) +1.740secs
  3. Marc Marquez (Ducati) +10.491secs
  4. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +10.543secs
  5. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) +15.441secs
  6. Raul Fernandez (Aprilia) +15.916secs
  7. Alex Marquez (Ducati) +16.882secs
  8. Brad Binder (KTM) +18.578secs
  9. Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) +20.477secs
  10. Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia) +20.889secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

  1. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 155 points
  2. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 116
  3. Marc Marquez (Ducati) 114
  4. Enea Bastianini (Ducati) 94
  5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) 87

What's next?

Round 7: Italy (Mugello), May 31-June 2