The inaugural MotoGP Grand Prix of India ended on a high with VR46 team rider Marco Bezzecchi taking an uncontested win on his Ducati. The Italian rider led the race from the pole position and was unchallenged for most of the 21-lap race as defending world champion Francesco (Pecco) Bagnaia crashed out. The first-ever Indian GP has thrown open a three-way title fight as the top three riders are separated by 44 points in the world rider championship standings.
Marco Bezzecchi started on the pole but a better start for Jorge Martin catapulted him to P1. Pecco also moved up to P2 with the VR46 rider moving down to P3 in the opening corners. But Bezzecchi clearly had better pace on his GP22 Ducati as he reeled back in the lead at Turn 4. There were no crashes on the opening lap since all riders were being extra cautious of Turn 1 braking, unlike the sprint race. Bezzecchi began building his lead with defending champion Pecco Bagnaia right on his tail at the end of the opening lap. Just what the rider needed after a disappointing crash with teammate Luca Marini wiped him in Lap 1, Turn 1 of the sprint race.
Behind Bezzecchi and Bagnaia was Jorge Martin, followed by Honda riders Joan Marc Marquez and Joan Mir. Bagnaia defended his position for the first half of the race as Martin began closing in, battling for P2. The Ducati factory rider had to cut his podium run short though with a crash on Lap 13, Turn 5, removed from contention. The incident promoted Martin to P2, while Fabio Quartararo moved up to P3, as an early crash put Marc Marquez at the back of the order from running fourth in the early stages.
At the front, Bezzecchi built a lead of well over two seconds by Lap 6, extending it further to 5 seconds by Lap 13. The rider remained untouched with a sizeable difference in pace over the rest of the grid. The 24-year-old managed to claim the victory in the first-ever Indian GP with a lead of 8.649 seconds.
Meanwhile, with Pecco out of contention, Fabio turned out to be the unexpected fighter in the Yamaha as he moved in sync with the Pramac Ducati to battle it out for P2. Quartararo managed to pass Martin briefly but the Pramac rider was not the one to give it away that easy and passed the Yamaha again, ensuring to keep the order that way till the end of the race.
Coming in fourth was Brad Binder on the KTM, in what was salvaging a disappointing weekend overall, while Joan Mir finished fifth after battling it out with Binder for P4. Johann Zarco finished sixth, while Franco Morbidelli finished seventh in a dramatic improvement of pace for Yamaha through the weekend. Maverick Vinales finished at P8, while Marc Marquez crossed the chequered flag in ninth place, an impressive finish considering his crash earlier in the race.
Rounding off the top 10 was Raul Fernandez on the RNF Aprilia, followed by Takaaki Nakagami of LCR Honda at 11th place. Miguel Oliveira of RNF Aprilia finished 12th ahead of Pol Espargaro of Tech3. Jack Miller concluded the weekend in 14th place while Stefan Bradl of LCR Honda concluded the list of points scorers in the race. Also finishing the race was Michele Pirro on the Ducati.
First Published Date: 24 Sep 2023, 19:10 PM IST