Francesco Bagnaia gets title defence off to perfect start with first Sprint win

Francesco Bagnaia has won the opening MotoGP race of the year after a costly mistake from Jorge Martin on the final lap.
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Portimao 2023

After clinching a sensational pole, Marc Marquez made a brilliant start as he led into turn one.

Bagnaia, who lined up second, was then moved down to third after teammate Enea Bastianini went from sixth to second. 

However, the reigning world champion responded immediately at turn three as he pushed Bastianini wide.

That allowed Jorge Martin to take third away from Bastianini, who then ran into much bigger trouble on lap two after Luca Marini lost the front-end of his Ducati at turn five and wiped out the four-time race winner in 2022.

Marini and Bastianini weren’t the first riders to crash out as Joan Mir fell on lap one after running into the side of Fabio Quartararo.

The Yamaha rider, who lost five place before contact with the Honda rider, then dropped down to 19th as a result of Mir’s mistake. 

As Bagnaia and Martin battled for the lead on laps three and four after overtaking Marquez, Miller began to make the biggest impact.

The KTM rider pounced on Marquez for P3 before taking second away from Bagnaia at turn five. 

The only rider of the lead group using a soft front tyre, Miller was clearly confident as he managed to turn his RC16 better than the riders around him. 

Marco Bezzecchi made it a miserable opening race of the season for Mooney VR46 Ducati after also crashing out. 

Miller’s epic charge then saw him take the race lead after a brilliant move on the brakes at turn 13. However, Martin was having none of it as he regained top spot heading into turn one. 

As the top five continued to fight, both factory Aprilia riders subsequently joined the action at the front of the field. 

Keen to move forward, Vinales put a late move on his teammate at turn two before Espargaro came straight back at his fellow Spaniard. 

The hard racing between both Aprilia riders saw them lose a little bit of ground behind Marquez, while Bagnaia made it a Ducati 1-2 for the second time after passing Miller on the run to turn one. 

As Oliveira attempted to take third away from Miller, Marquez sniffed an opportunity to overtake both riders, which he did afte they ran slightly wide at turn one.

Oliveira then regained third heading into the final lap before making a mistake at turn ten which gifted Marquez the podium.

Martin, who was leading the race with just one lap to go, also made a mistake at turn five which allowed Bagnaia to come through and claim victory.

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