The Spaniard stormed to his debut Sprint victory with Binder 2nd and a breathtaking battle between Bagnaia and Marquez
MotoGP™ fans could not take their eyes off their screens as Saturday’s Tissot Sprint delivered once again at the SHARK Grand Prix de France. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) put in an inch-perfect ride to take his first Sprint victory in MotoGP™. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) fought his way through the pack to storm to a lonely P2 as Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) brought home solid championship points after fending off Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in an intense battle for 3rd place.
No stopping The Martinator
With two World Champions lining up first and second on the grid ahead of the first-ever Tissot Sprint at the Le Mans circuit, we were set up perfectly for exciting action on Saturday. The lights went out, and it was Bagnaia who stormed off the line to take the hole shot whilst Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) shot into P2. Turn 2 came and Martin made an incredible around-the-outside move to take 2nd place from Miller.
As the riders crossed the line for the first time it was Bagnaia leading Martin with Miller in 3rd, and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Marquez in hot pursuit. Sector two came around and it was disappointment in the KTM camp as Jack Miller crashed out at Museum corner to promote Marquez to P3. In the meantime, spirits were lifted for the Austrian manufacturer as Binder was on the move, and pushed his way past Marini to set the fastest lap and latch himself onto the back of the top 3.
11 laps to go, and it was a four-rider scrap for Tissot Sprint glory as Bagnaia led Martin, Marquez, and Binder respectively with Marini in a distant 5th.
This didn’t last long, however, as Martin lunged up the inside of Bagnaia to take the lead away from the Ducati top dog. Martin then began to put the hammer down and pulled out 0.7s in just one lap, with the Spaniard going on to take victory by 1.8s.
The Champion vs The King
Marquez and Binder were queuing up behind the World Champion and a big reshuffle at the Dunlop chicane saw Binder take full advantage to go into P2 demoting Bagnaia to P3 and Marquez to P4. Marini then caught the battle as Bagnaia was struggling to hold onto the pace of the leaders.
Bagnaia began to drop down the order as Marquez pushed his way through at the Dunlop chicane with 8 laps to go seeing Bagnaia drop to 5th behing Marquez and Marini. With the Italian clearly struggling the World Champion did his best to cling on, and snapped straight back at Marini.
Seven laps to go and Martin had a 1.7s advantage over a lonely Brad Binder in P2, with Marquez, Bagnaia and Marini two seconds behind the South African.
The battle for third place was brewing nicely between the two World Champions as fans had an incredible fight hotting up. Bagnaia made a move on the eight-time World Champion at the 200mph Turn 1 with 4 laps of racing still remaining.
The Italian then put the hammer down, and Marquez was unable to hang onto the coattails of the factory Ducati as the Spaniard fell into the clutches of Luca Marini.
Bagnaia found form as the Italian was motoring towards the 2nd placed Binder with laps ticking away, but it was too little too late for the Italian who consolidated 3rd place 0.7s shy of the South African in 2nd and 0.7s ahead of 4th place.
Martin crossed the line to take his first Sprint win as well as his first Grand Prix points at Le Mans, bouncing back in style. Binder took second to gain in the title fight, ahead of Bagnaia completing the podium.
Blink and you miss it!
Not only was there an incredible battle between two Champions, but there was action everywhere you looked in Saturday’s Tissot Sprint. After Bagnaia pulled away from the pack to defend his top 3 position, Marini got the better of Marquez to take 4th place. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) was all over the rear of the battle for 4th, but lost ground after a crucial mistake in the closing stages halted his progress and saw the Frenchman settle for 6th.
Meanwhile, further back there was a gaggle of riders swapping paintwork as Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) got the better of the chasing Aprilia Racing riders of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales to take 7th place with the Aprilias 8th and 9th respectively.
Hard charging Quartararo slides out of Tissot Sprint
The nightmare home Grand Prix for Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) continued as the Frenchman crashed out of the Sprint to the dismay of the home crowd.
If Saturday’s action at the SHARK Grand Prix de France is anything to go by, you do not want to miss any of the action on Sunday’s billing as the race gets underway at 14:00 local time (GMT +2).
1. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing)
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +1.840
3. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) +2.632
4. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +3.418
5. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +3.541
6. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) +4.483
7. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +5.224
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +6.359
9. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) +8.336
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) +9.439