MotoGP Valencia: Pecco Bagnaia crowned 2023 World Champion as Jorge Martin crashes out

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Francesco Bagnaia has been crowned 2023 MotoGP World Champion after a chaotic season finale in Valencia which saw title rival Jorge Martin crash out in a collision with Marc Marquez.

Bagnaia made the perfect start from pole, promoted due to a grid penalty for Maverick Vinales, but was quickly joined by Martin who had equally made a fantastic start from sixth on the grid.

The first key moment came at the beginning of lap three. Bagnaia ran wide at the final corner, allowing Martin to get straight into the slipstream of his rival. However, he was sucked in too much and had to take avoiding action to miss the back wheel of Bagnaia, running off the circuit as a result and dropping down to seventh.

What followed was Martin desperately trying to fight his way back through the field. First up was Vinales, who put up a strong fight at first, and then it was Marquez. Whilst attempting a move down the inside at turn four, Martin clipped the back wheel of the Repsol Honda rider, who closed the door on the Pramac Racing man. Marquez, competing in his final race with HRC, was launched violently into the air as a result of the contact.

With the news coming through that Martin was out, Bagnaia was able to relax somewhat and he soon dropped behind Brad Binder and Jack Miller, whilst Marquez was taken to the medical centre for a check-up before returning to the Repsol Honda garage for the final time.

Bagnaia went on to win the race after withstanding immense pressure from Fabio Di Giannantonio and ends 2023 with seven Grand Prix victories. The Italian is the first rider to successfully defend his title since Marquez in 2019, and the first Italian to achieve that feat since Valentino Rossi in 2009.

Di Giannantonio had great late race pace and dispatched of Brad Binder and Johann Zarco before setting his sights on the now two-time champion. However, the Gresini Racing man was unable to put a move on the eventual winner.

Zarco completed the podium on his final outing for Pramac Racing before joining LCR Honda, whilst Binder came home in fourth. The South African was over a second clear at the front when he ran on at turn 10 and went along the long lap penalty route as a result, dropping to sixth. Binder’s incidents didn’t end there, as he was forced to drop a position after riding into Alex Marquez at turn four on lap 16.

Red Bull KTM teammate Miller took the lead of the race and was on course to become the first rider in history to win MotoGP races with three different manufacturers. However, the Aussie’s hopes came to a dramatic end with a big crash at turn 10 on lap 19.

Raul Fernandez recorded his best-ever MotoGP result in fifth after a stunning performance onboard the RNF Racing Aprilia. Alex Marquez and Franco Morbidelli were seventh and eighth respectively, whilst Luca Marini and Maverick Vinales completed the top 10. Vinales was the only rider to use the soft rear tyre.

Fabio Quartararo battled illness to cross the line in 11th. The Frenchman missed morning warm-up after suffering with a fever during the night. Takaaki Nakagami finished 12th ahead of Lorenzo Savadori, whilst Pol Espargaro re-joined after a late crash at turn 10 to finish 14th and last.

Marco Bezzecchi’s race came to end on the opening lap, whilst Enea Bastianini crashed at turn one at the beginning of lap 10. Alex Rins crashed at the same corner on lap 20, bringing an end to his one-season stint with LCR Honda.

Jorge Martin has cut the gap in the 2023 MotoGP title fight to 14 points after winning his ninth sprint race of the season at Valencia.

Pecco Bagnaia made a great start to the race but ended up getting outmuscled down to fifth on a chaotic opening couple of laps. Meanwhile, Martin had forced his way through the podium positions from sixth on the grid, making his race-winning move on Brad Binder at turn 10 after the South African ran in too hot.

For Bagnaia it was damage limitation once again in the Sprint, crossing the line in fifth just ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio, who looked stronger than the reigning champion but was unable to make a move.

A repeat of today’s result in Sunday’s Grand Prix would see Bagnaia become a two-time world champion. Should the pair end up with the same amount of points, Bagnaia would again be crowned the champion due to having more Grand Prix victories in 2023. Bagnaia has six to his name, whilst Martin currently has four.

Sprint Race Valencia Top 3 - Martin, Binder and Marc Marquez

Binder crossed the line in second whilst Marc Marquez claimed his third Sprint podium of the year on his final weekend as a Repsol Honda rider. Marquez was involved in an early scrap with Martin, leaving tyre marks on the title chaser’s shoulder. Marquez was emotional throughout the post-race interviews and podium presentation.

Polesitter Maverick Vinales was fourth for Aprilia after dropping off the pace in the middle of the race. Di Giannantonio and Marco Bezzecchi were sixth and seventh respectively, with Alex Marquez, Johann Zarco and Augusto Fernandez completing the top 10.

Raul Fernandez finished ahead of Jack Miller in 11th, whilst Aleix Espargaro struggled down in 13th. Luca Marini and Franco Morbidelli were the final two points scorers this afternoon. Marini’s departure from Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati was confirmed on Saturday morning, with an announcement expected from Repsol Honda due any day now.

Fabio Quartararo crashed out at turn six whilst attempting a move down the inside of Bagnaia. It’s the Frenchman’s second crash of the day after a high-speed fall at turn 10 during practice.

Maverick Vinales ended Ducati’s domination in qualifying to take his first pole position for Aprilia at the 2023 MotoGP season finale.

A Ducati rider has taken pole at the last 15 rounds but today was Vinales’ day as he produced the first-ever 1:28 lap of the Ricardo Tormo Circuit with a 1:28.931. It’s the Spaniard’s first pole since 2021, when he put the Monster Energy Yamaha in top spot.

Pecco Bagnaia responded brilliantly after a difficult Friday in-which mind games were played by title rival Jorge Martin. Despite being under immense pressure in Q1, the Italian topped the session with ease by breaking the then all-time time lap record.

Things improved further in Q2 as the reigning champion finished 0.092s behind Vinales to secure an all-important spot on the front row. Martin was so successful and will start both the Sprint and GP from sixth on the grid following a hectic session which almost saw him collide with Marc Marquez. Martin had a big wobble on his final flying lap of the session which cost him the chance to improve.

Martin does however have Pramac Racing Ducati teammate Johann Zarco on the front row next to Bagnaia, but will have to overtake both Red Bull KTM riders Jack Miller (fourth) and Brad Binder (fifth). The latter suffered a big crash at turn eight in the closing seconds of the session.

Marco Bezzecchi heads row three ahead of Alex and Marc Marquez. Both of the brothers crashed with a few minutes of each other in qualifying, with Marc hitting the deck at turn two whilst following Martin. Raul Fernandez, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Aleix Espargaro complete the top 12.

Augusto Fernandez missed out on a spot in Q2 by only 0.037 after improving on his best Friday lap-time by over a second. The Tech3 GASGAS rider is joined on the fifth row by Enea Bastianini and Fabio Quartararo, with the latter suffering a big crash at turn 10 during morning practice.

Takaaki Nakagami qualified 16th for LCR Honda ahead of Luca Marini, who confirmed on Saturday morning that he will be leaving Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati following the conclusion of the season. Pol Espargaro completes row six.

Franco Morbidelli, the returning Alex Rins and Lorenzo Savadori, who is replacing the injured Miguel Oliveira. Joan Mir has withdrawn from the weekend due to neck pain caused by a crash in FP1 on Friday morning.

Saturday’s sprint race at Valencia is due to take place at 14:00 (UK Time).