Bagnaia wins first MotoGP sprint race of 2023 after safety concerns

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martin wins first sprint race motogp portimao
25 March 2023 at 15:59
Last update 25 March 2023 at 18:30

Reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia has won the first ever sprint race in MotoGP. To do so, he beat Ducati colleague Enea Bastianini on the final lap of the race in Portugal. Polesitter Marc Marquez closed in on third place.

Bagnaia wins first sprint race MotoGP

Marquez managed to qualify his Honda in pole position, but during the race he fell short of the Ducati's superior pace. Bagnaia and Martin were soon past him, after which an intense duel unfolded between the two Ducati riders. While Bagnaia represented the factory team, Martin did so on behalf of satellite team Pramac.

It was the first sprint race in MotoGP history, but certainly not the last: indeed, from the 2023 season onwards, the event will immediately become a regular part of the weekend programme. However, the result of the sprint does not determine the starting grid for the main race, as is the case in Formula 1. As half a race distance is covered, drivers are awarded half points.

For Sunday's race, the result of qualifying, which was held on Friday, will be used. Marquez will therefore be allowed to start from pole again on Sunday, but again the eight-time world champion will be joined on the front row by Ducati riders Bagnaia and Martin.

Safety concerns Portimao

In the run-up to the sprint race, several riders were critical of the safety of the Portimao circuit. This followed a heavy crash during the second practice session on Friday, in which Pol Espargaro suffered fractures to his jaw and vertebrae, as well as a lung contusion. In itself, a heavy crash is not a rarity in the racing class, but the fact that there were no air cushions along the barrier where the impact took place has drawn considerable criticism from the organisers.