Jorge Marín Francesco Bagnaia title fight, Alex Marquez wins Malaysian MotoGP sprint race, highlights, news

Alex Marquez won the Malaysian MotoGP sprint race in Sepang on Saturday ahead of championship rivals Jorge Martin and Francesco Bagnaia, cutting his lead at the top to 11 points.

Spain’s Marquez returned home aboard his Ducati with a lead of nearly 1.6 seconds over Italy’s Bagnaia and compatriot Martin, who took two points in the championship battle with three races remaining.

It was a disappointing afternoon for titleholder Bagnaia. He started from pole position on his factory Ducati, leading half of the ten laps before dropping back to third.

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Bagnaia has 396 points heading into Sunday’s race, while Martin has 385 points, which will ultimately decide the race for the title.

“We did our best, but today we didn’t have the best effort to win,” said Bagnaia, 26, before explaining exactly what went wrong in his race. I was in trouble.

“This race will help us understand something for tomorrow.

“My mood was never the best.”

Prima Pramac Spanish rider Jorge Martin celebrates after taking second place in the Tissot Sprint Race at the MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix held at the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang on November 11, 2023 (Photo by MOHD RASFAN/ AFP)Source: AFP

The Italian, who broke the Sepang lap record in qualifying and took pole from rival Martin in the sprint and Sunday’s race, got off to a clean start and held the lead through the first corner.

Martin, also riding a Ducati, dropped to fourth place in the early stages.

The Prima Pramac rider recovered and battled with Marquez for second place, with Bagnaia keeping his cool for the most part and maintaining his lead advantage.

However, Gresini Racing’s Marquez, who started from fourth on the grid, saw Martin off and had a chance to take the lead from Bagnaia with five laps remaining.

Martin quickly passed Bagnaia as well, quickly relegating the championship leader to third place.

Marquez stormed away from there, building a lead of more than a second over Martin for the rest of the sprint.

“Today we were on a mission,” Marquez said.

“I did everything perfectly.”

Bagnaia’s Factory Ducati teammate Enea Bastianini was fourth. Marquez’s older brother, six-time MotoGP world champion Marc, had had an unforgettable weekend so far, finishing in a poor 20th place in qualifying but 21st in the sprint.

The Ducati bikes dominated in qualifying, with Bagnaia taking pole position from Martin in a dramatic closing session.

Martin came off his bike late in qualifying while pushing hard to beat the Italian, but was unharmed.

The top six positions on the grid were all Ducatis.

After a 20-lap race at Sepang, the season moves on to Qatar and the final Grand Prix of the season in Valencia, in what looks to be a thrilling conclusion to the championship.

Alex Marquez is not in contention for the title — which makes him dangerous, Bagnaia said.

“He has nothing to lose. Today he proved it,” said the Italian.

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