Alex Marquez of Gresini Racing emerged as the surprising winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix sprint, surpassing Jorge Martin from Pramac Racing and reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia. Despite starting from fourth position, Marquez managed to overtake the title contenders, who finished in second and third place respectively.
Bagnaia, aiming for his second world crown, initially had control over the sprint after starting from pole position at the Sepang International Circuit. However, the 26-year-old Italian was unable to withstand Marquez’s late surge.
Prior to the sprint, Bagnaia had set a lap record of 1:57.491.
As a result of the sprint outcome, Bagnaia’s championship lead over Spain’s Martin was reduced to 11 points ahead of the upcoming race on Sunday. Bagnaia expressed his disappointment, stating, “We did the maximum and the maximum was not enough today to win. This race first we need to understand, something for tomorrow. My feeling wasn’t the best, absolutely.”
Martin, on the other hand, aims to surpass Bagnaia in the remaining three races of the season, replicating his impressive performance from last month’s Thailand Grand Prix. Reflecting on the race, Martin said, “It was an amazing race. The pace was outstanding. I think all the riders were on the limit. I wasn’t able to win but I’m so happy about the second position in front of my fierce opponents. Happy with the performance.”
Enea Bastianini secured the fourth position, with Ducati bikes dominating the top four spots. KTM’s Brad Binder was the highest-ranking non-Ducati rider, finishing in fifth place. Australian Jack Miller finished sixth, while Marco Bezzecchi, another title contender, claimed the seventh spot. Frenchman Johann Zarco and Luca Marini also earned points in the race.
Marc Marquez, the six-time MotoGP champion, faced another setback as he crashed for the 27th time this season.
Following the Malaysian Grand Prix, MotoGP will continue with races in Qatar and Valencia later this month.
Reporting by Pearl Josephine Nazare in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel
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