RACE REPORT | MotoGP Catalunya 2023

Aleix Espargaro achieved a remarkable double victory in front of his home crowd, leading Aprilia to their first-ever one-two finish in the restarted 2023 Catalunya MotoGP event held at Barcelona. However, the reigning champion, Francesco Bagnaia, was notably absent from the restart due to leg injuries, necessitating his hospitalization for further treatment.

The Sprint race winner, Espargaro, closely followed his teammate Maverick Vinales for a significant portion of the race before launching his attack during the final six laps. With four laps remaining, Espargaro made his move on the main straight, placing Vinales under pressure and forcing him off the racing line at Turn 1. Replays revealed that both riders' front tires were considerably worn, leaving Vinales unable to counterattack. The surprising twist occurred when the two teammates swapped bikes during the slowdown lap, showcasing their camaraderie. Title contender Jorge Martin secured the third position on the podium, representing Pramac Ducati. Martin initially battled with RNF Aprilia's Miguel Oliveira before successfully keeping his Pramac Ducati teammate Johann Zarco at bay.

The initial race had been halted due to a first-turn pile-up and a severe accident involving Francesco Bagnaia, which resulted in leg injuries. Bagnaia, the reigning champion, was transported to a local hospital for medical attention. The chaos unfolded as the riders entered the turn 1 chicane, with Enea Bastianini, who had started 14th following a grid penalty, attempting an inside maneuver but running out of space and falling on the kerbing. This incident triggered a chain reaction, involving Johann Zarco, Fabio di Giannantonio, Alex Marquez, and Marco Bezzecchi.

The situation worsened for Ducati Lenovo when Bagnaia, who had managed to avoid the initial mayhem, suffered a highside crash while leading the race, landing in the middle of the track. Despite efforts by following riders to avoid him, KTM's Brad Binder collided with Bagnaia's legs. Bagnaia, who had started the race with a significant 66-point lead over Jorge Martin, required stretcher transportation to the ambulance. Initial reports suggested that Bagnaia's injuries might not be as severe as initially feared, considering the impact to his legs. However, Bastianini may have sustained fractures in his fall.All riders, except Bagnaia and Bastianini, were able to participate in the restart, starting from their original grid positions (with the pole position left vacant). Bastianini received a long lap penalty, which he is expected to serve at a later Grand Prix for his role in triggering the initial accident.

Brad Binder, who had exhausted his supply of medium front tires, was compelled to switch to the harder compound for the restart but retired after only a few laps. Pol Espargaro encountered early technical issues with his RC16, and Raul Fernandez pitted due to what appeared to be a jammed front holeshot device.Former champions Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo were closely matched in the early stages of the race, with Quartararo eventually passing Marquez, who struggled as his Honda drifted wide, securing eighth place. Quartararo, using the older M1 fairing, gained another position by the race's conclusion, while Marquez slipped back to 13th.

Marco Bezzecchi, third in the standings, was compelled to switch to a softer front tire for the restart but managed to nurse his bike to a 12th-place finish. Iker Lecuona experienced a lowside incident from his LCR Honda during the initial start, finishing 16th.

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