Bagnaia holds off Binder as high drama hits in the Spielberg Sprint
MotoGP Press:

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) converted pole position into Tissot Sprint victory number four of 2023 as the Italian fended off an early Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) challenge at the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) picked up P3 but the Spaniard was heavily involved in the drama that unfolded right from the get-go, as well as another dose later in the Sprint.

Key contenders crash at Turn 1
Bagnaia got away well from pole well with Binder – as always – launching like a rocket ship from the outside of the front row as well. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) got a sluggish start from P2, however, and dropped like a stone as Turn 1 played host to high drama.

Martin was on the inside line, with contact made with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), which then started a domino effect. Viñales was involved as he was sandwiched between Quartararo and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), and the latter went down along with Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team). Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) was also caught up in the incident. Martin was later given a Long Lap penalty for Sunday's race after being found to have been riding irresponsibly.

Bagnaia untouchable on Saturday
Back at the front, Bagnaia led from Binder. By the start of Lap 5 the duo were over a second up the road from Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), with Martin running in P5. On Lap 6, Miller went from P3 to P5 as Marini and Martin pounced though, and more drama involving Martin then unravelled - this time at Turn 2A. Martin was up the inside of Marini but contact was made as the duo tipped it into the apex, with the latter crashing out unhurt.

Meanwhile, Bagnaia’s lead was up to a second over Binder, who in turn had three seconds in hand to Martin. With six laps left, Pecco was 1.3s ahead of the leading KTM, and the gap kept on climbing. Binder was a safe second, the #33 was 2.7s up the road from Martin, and Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) was a lonely P4 as we got confirmation that no further action would be taken regarding the Martin-Marini clash.

Bagnaia made no mistake to bring his Ducati home for Austrian GP Tissot Sprint victory to extend his title lead, with Binder claiming P2 in KTM’s backyard. Martin took the bronze medal from P12 on the grid. A spirited - albeit slightly controversial - comeback ride. Alex Marquez held on to fourth, with Miller taking P5.

With a host of other expected frontrunners further down the order facing a fight back after that huge Turn 1 shuffle, there was plenty going on there, including a charge from GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3’s Pol Espargaro. He took an impressive P6, highly commendable as the Spaniard competes in just his second Tissot Sprint of the season.

Aleix Espargaro finished P7, 0.144s further back, and had some serious pressure from teammate Viñales. The number 12 produced a great fight back to take P8 and nearly, nearly pounce on the final lap. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) held off Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) for the final Saturday afternoon point.

Meanwhile, Quartararo had some extra drama after the Turn 1 incident too. He clashed with Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing), and was given a Long Lap to serve in the Sprint, which he did.

As the dust settles, it truly was drama aplenty in the Austrian GP Tissot Sprint. Now, the big points are on offer on Sunday, with plenty looking to fight back. Tune into the MotoGP™ race at 14:00 local time (GMT+2)!
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