The cloud cover that still lingered around Mugello eventually decided that the opening lap of the sprint race was the right time to make its presence felt, but in the end, the weather was no obstacle in Pecco Bagnaia’s quest to dominate on Saturdays. The Italian faced some brief opposition but eventually reclaimed the lead and held onto victory until the chequered flag. Marco Bezzecchi was forced to stare at his main rival’s exhaust for much of proceedings and eventually settled for second, limiting the damage in the championship standings. Jorge Martin also showed intentions at the front before claiming third at the finish line.
Bagnaia had made the usual rocket launch from pole position, while fellow front row starter Marc Marquez was getting challenged by Jack Miller straight away, but managed to hold onto second position out of San Donato. Martin and Luca Marini soon put Miller back in his place, while Bezzecchi recovered one position into sixth, helped by a tangle between Brad Binder and Alex Marquez, which saw the Gresini man head into the gravel at the first corner. Despite the early chaos on track, the focus soon turned to the rain drops that started to appear on the cameras at Scarperia and there were concerned faces all throughout pitlane.
Regardless of the conditions, Bagnaia continued unperturbed at the front, but Martin was on a move, first attacking Marquez at turn one and then taking over the lead just as white flags started waving. Bagnaia didn’t need long to reclaim top spot at turn one, only four laps in, and then the focus turned to the battles behind. Miller was also encouraged by the changing conditions and started squabbling with Marquez, a strong move at turn ten nudging the Spaniard down to seventh position. That allowed Bezzecchi and Marini to get into the mix at the front, while Zarco and Binder also snuck ahead of Marquez, although the South-African was soon to be penalised with a long lap penalty for the incident with the younger Marquez. Enea Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro had joined the top 10 by that point, with Fabio Quartararo just behind and eventually helped by Binder’s penalty, which dropped the KTM man down to 14th.
Bagnaia continued to lead a group of nine men, including Bezzecchi, Martin, Zarco, Miller, Marini, Marquez and Bastianini and the order was maintained for the next couple of laps, but a slight gap started to stretch with five laps remaining. Bagnaia, Bezzecchi, Martin and Zarco were steadily dropping Marini, Miller and Marquez, while Bastianini started to fade on his return to action. The Italian soon had company from Espargaro and Quartararo, who were much more eager to swap paint than the leading pack. Meanwhile, Binder was setting a new top speed record of 366.1 km/h in his attempt to catch up with the trio.
Back at the front, Bagnaia decided to ditch the company with three laps remaining, extending about half a second’s worth of breathing room over Bezzecchi and the Pramac boys. Bezzecchi tried to recover that ground and got as close as three tenths of a second on the final lap but had to admit defeat at the chequered flag. Zarco had a good sniff around Martin but also failed to find a way past and the Spaniard added another sprint medal to his collection. There were no other moves in the chasing group, which Marini led over the line to take fifth, with Miller sixth and Marquez seventh. At least Bastianini got some action over the final couple of laps, losing ninth to Aleix Espargaro but reclaiming tenth from Quartararo on the last lap. Binder managed to close the gap to that group but settled for 11th place.
Bagnaia’s excellent form in sprint races allows him to slightly extend his advantage in the championship standings to four points over Bezzecchi, with Martin promoted to third, 19 points down and Binder dropping one place and 25 points to the leader.
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