Francesco Bagnaia

MotoGP: Bagnaia wins in Valencia and secure 2023 title

Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia has been crowned 2023 MotoGP world champion, winning the Valencia Grand Prix, after title rival Jorge Martin choked.

Jorge Martin crashed out of the race following an incident at Turn 4 with Marc Marquez . Pecco went on to claim victory as a phenomenal fight for P1 plays out, with Fabio Di Giannantonio and Johann Zarco rounding out a podium trio split by 0.360s across the line.

Francesco Bagnaia
Francesco Bagnaia

Unbelievable drama sees Martin’s title dreams vanish

Because of a Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) three-place grid penalty for ignoring the black and orange flags in Warm Up, Pecco was promoted to pole position for the final showdown, with Martin still launching from P6.

For the final and most important time in 2023 it was time to race. Bagnaia got the dream getaway from pole to grab a crucial holeshot, with Martin also making a fantastic launch to grab an early P2. Pecco P1, Martin P2 – that’s how it was after the opening lap, with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing pair of Brad Binder and Jack Miller P3 and P4.

Between the title fighting duo, it was as you were after the second lap but a monumental moment then took place at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 3. Martin was right in the slipstream of Pecco and as the duo chucked the anchors on into Turn 1, Martin got sucked in and made slight contact with Pecco. Martin was wide – well wide – and dropped to P8, with Pecco unhindered by the incident. Huge drama early on.

The fightback began on Lap 4 for Martin. P8 became P7 as the Spaniard got the better of Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). Martin tried to do the same to Viñales a lap later but the latter bit straight back – and a repeat played out at Turn 11.

Up front, Binder was crawling all over the back of Pecco but focus was elsewhere. A battle was raging between Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), with that enabling Viñales and Martin to close right in.

What happened next ultimately decided the Championship. Martin was getting visibly frustrated and on Lap 6, having finally got through on Viñales, Marc Marquez was next in line. At Turn 4, Martin lunged up the inside of the eight-time World Champion but contact was made. So much so, the pair were tangled together. Martin ran straight into the gravel as Marquez was thrown into a vicious highside, as two of the home crowd favorites were down and out. Marquez’s final race with Honda ended in huge disappointment, with Martin’s title hopes vanishing. A painful end to a wonderful campaign for the Prima Pramac star.

With Martin out, no matter what Bagnaia did, he would be the 2023 MotoGP™ World Champion. ‘MARTIN OUT’ was signalled on his pit board as the two KTMs of Binder and Miller were now first and second, with Zarco and Viñales chasing Pecco.

With 12 laps to go though, Binder made a mistake. A big one too. Just as he did in the Tissot Sprint, the South African was wide at Turn 11, and that dropped him from P1 to P6. Miller now led Pecco by just over a second.

Binder’s comeback began with an aggressive move on Alex Marquez at Turn 4, and it was one that saw him handed a drop one position penalty. With nine laps left, Miller’s race then ended. The Aussie crashed at Turn 10 which handed the lead back to Bagnaia, who had Zarco just 0.3s behind him. A disastrous few laps for KTM.

The Championship might have been decided, but the race certainly wasn’t. Binder was just 1.5s away from the lead again and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) tagged himself onto the rear wheel of the KTM. Soon, the Italian was into P3 with five laps to go.

With three laps left, 0.3s was still the gap between Pecco and Zarco. But cue the jaws music – Di Giannantonio was on a mission. On Lap 25 of 27, the top trio were split by 0.3s over the line. At Turn 4, Di Giannantonio shoved his Ducati up the inside of Zarco’s and made a move stick for P2. Next: the World Champion elect.

LAST LAP OF THE SEASON: Three riders, only one could win. Would Bagnaia claim the title with a win or would it be Di Giannantonio or Zarco standing on the top step? Halfway around the lap, there was no way through. A head shake from Di Giannantonio told us frustrations were there, but Pecco rode superbly to fend off both his compatriot and Zarco to win the World Championship in the best way possible: victory. A classy ride from all three riders on the podium.

Francesco Bagnaia
Francesco Bagnaia

The final points scorers of 2023

Binder took P4 in Valencia after looking set to take victory, as Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) earned his best result of the season with a fantastic P5. Alex Marquez was P6 with Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) capping off his Yamaha career with a solid P7, as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), Luca Marini in his final Mooney VR46 Racing Team appearance and Viñales rounded out the top 10.

An unwell Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) finished P11, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Lorenzo Savadori (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) and Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) the other finishers, as the latter ends his full-time MotoGP™ career – for now – in P14 after a crash and remount.

Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) and Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) were the other riders to DNF.

And just like that, 2023 draws to a dramatic close. Bagnaia is now a three-time World Champion as Martin gets set to come back even stronger in 2024. What a season it’s been. Now, full focus turns to Tuesday’s Valencia Test – 2024 starts very soon.

Valencia Race Results

1 Francesco Bagnaia ITA Ducati Lenovo (GP23) +0.000s
2 Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA Gresini Ducati (GP22) +0.176s
3 Johann Zarco FRA Pramac Ducati (GP23) +0.360s
4 Brad Binder RSA Red Bull KTM (RC16) +2.347s
5 Raul Fernandez SPA RNF Aprilia (RS-GP22) +4.636s
6 Alex Marquez SPA Gresini Ducati (GP22) +4.708s
7 Franco Morbidelli ITA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) +4.736s
8 Aleix Espargaro SPA Aprilia Racing (RS-GP23) +8.014s
9 Luca Marini ITA Mooney VR46 Ducati (GP22) +9.486s
10 Maverick Viñales SPA Aprilia Racing (RS-GP23) +10.556s
11 Fabio Quartararo FRA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) +12.001s
12 Takaaki Nakagami JPN LCR Honda (RC213V) +21.695s
13 Lorenzo Savadori ITA RNF Aprilia (RS-GP22) +43.297s
14 Pol Espargaro SPA Tech3 GASGAS (RC16) +2 laps
DNF Alex Rins SPA LCR Honda (RC213V) DNF
DNF Jack Miller AUS Red Bull KTM (RC16) DNF
DNF Enea Bastianini ITA Ducati Lenovo (GP23) DNF
DNF Augusto Fernandez SPA Tech3 GASGAS (RC16)* DNF
DNF Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda (RC213V) DNF
DNF Jorge Martin SPA Pramac Ducati (GP23) DNF
DNF Marco Bezzecchi ITA Mooney VR46 Ducati (GP22) DNF


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