After the earlier downpour caused a longer delay than the sprint itself lasted, the premier class still provided some entertainment and presumably some nice photos in the golden afternoon sun shining over the Buddh circuit. Although the racing line had dried nicely, damp patches on the grid caused some trouble at the start – even though Jorge Martin stole the show as he launched into the lead straight away and stayed there until he became the first MotoGP victor on Indian soil. Pecco Bagnaia’s pace was no match for the Spaniard’s but the world champion had a quiet ride into second place, while Marc Marquez finally returned to the sprint podium after defending third place for much of the 11 laps.
There were mixed fortunes in the Marquez family, as Alex was declared unfit after fracturing three ribs in a Q1 crash and missing the action. Luca Marini then became the next victim of the sprint, the Italian’s overly eager approach to the first corner, coupled with his teammate’s poor start from pole, meant that the two collided and Marco Bezzecchi found himself at the very back of the grid by turn two. While the poleman was regrouping, Martin was long gone, with Bagnaia in tow, followed by the Hondas of Joan Mir and Marquez. Brad Binder also made a lightning start to go from 13th on the grid into the top five, followed by Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Viñales, Jack Miller, Johann Zarco and Raul Fernandez in the early top 10. A poor opening lap from Aleix Espargaro dropped him outside the top 15 and his race eventually ended with a crash a few laps later.
Back at the front, Martin only needed a lap or so to ditch Bagnaia over a second behind, the Italian still fending off the Hondas, who were focused on each other, after Marquez attacked Mir and awaited retaliation. Before Mir could find a way back past his teammate, he found the gravel on lap four, leaving Binder as the next challenger, almost a second behind the remaining Honda. While Binder was trying to catch back up with Marquez, the likes of Quartararo, Miller, Zarco, Viñales and Raul Fernandez were holding onto the remaining point scoring positions – at least until the end of lap five, when Bezzecchi’s rapid recovery allowed him to rob the Aprilias in quick succession. Bezzecchi’s phenomenal pace was then helped further by a crash from Zarco one lap later and the Italian had clear air to hunt down Miller for sixth place.
Martin rode a much less eventful race, doubling his advantage to two seconds by lap seven, while Bagnaia distanced Marquez by another second. With Martin and Bagnaia looking pretty secure in the top positions, all eyes were on Marquez and Binder for the last few of laps, the duo only separated by a few tenths of a second but the opportunity never came for the KTM man and Marquez kept the podium. Quartararo was also getting closer to the battle for third in the last couple of laps but never got within striking distance. On the other hand, Bezzecchi made light work of Miller with four laps remaining and the 1.3 seconds gap to Quartararo proved very much doable, as the poleman robbed the Frenchman of fifth on the final lap, to finish only half a second behind the podium battle. The final points went to Miller, Viñales and Raul Fernandez.
Bagnaia’s persistent presence on the podium helps him maintain top spot in the world championship standings, although Martin continues to chip away at his advantage, now down to 33 points, with Bezzecchi limiting the damage to 69 points.
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