French Grand Prix Saturday Quote Machine

Absolute showstopper: Martin takes the spoils as Champions clash

The Spaniard stormed to his debut Tissot Sprint victory from Binder, ahead of a breathtaking battle between Bagnaia and Marquez
Saturday, 13 May 2023

We billed it as super Saturday and once again, we meant it. The Tissot Sprint at Le Mans was another jaw dropper throughout the field, and we have a new name in the history books as Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) put in an inch-perfect ride to take his first Sprint win in MotoGP™. Just behind him, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) fought his way through the pack to storm to another podium in second, and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) completed the podium.

‘Completed the podium’ isn’t quite the correct product description, however, as the #1 actually had a gloves-off melee with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) that was intense, spectacular, and left both giving some fantastic reviews of the sport they compete in.

Let’s rewind first. It was Bagnaia who stormed off the line to take the holeshot as the lights went out, whilst Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) shot into P2. Turn 2 came and Martin made an incredible around-the-outside move to take 2nd place from Miller though, and as the riders crossed the line for the first time it remained Bagnaia, Martin, Miller, shadowed by Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Marquez in hot pursuit. Sector two came around and it was disappointment in the KTM camp though as Miller crashed out at Museum corner, by then promoting Marquez to P3. Some spirits were lifted for the Austrian manufacturer as Binder was on the move though, pushing his way past Marini to set the fastest lap and latch himself onto the back of the top 3.

With 11 laps to go, and it was a four-rider scrap for Tissot Sprint glory as Bagnaia led Martin, Marquez, and Binder respectively with Marini in a distant 5th. That didn’t last long, however, as Martin lunged up the inside of Bagnaia to take the lead away from the Ducati Lenovo rider. The number 89 then began to put the hammer down and pulled out 0.7s in just one lap. From there on out, he was untouchable. For the fight behind, a different word should be sought.

Marquez and Binder were queuing up behind Pecco, and a big reshuffle at the Dunlop chicane saw Binder take full advantage to go into P2, demoting Bagnaia to P3 and Marquez to P4. Marini then caught the battle as Bagnaia was struggling to hold onto the pace of the leaders, and it became a four-rider scrap. But Binder decided he was out, and the KTM started to edge away.

Marquez pushed his way through at the Dunlop chicane with 8 laps to go, seeing Bagnaia drop to 5th behind Marquez and Marini. With the Italian clearly struggling he did his best to cling on, and snapped straight back at Marini. Next target: Marquez. Bagnaia was coming back at it, and made a move on the eight-time World Champion at the 200mph Turn 1 with 4 laps of racing still remaining.

The Italian then put the hammer down, and Marquez was unable to hang onto the coattails of the factory Ducati as the Spaniard faded slightly into the clutches of Marini. Martin crossed the line to take his first Sprint win as well as his first Grand Prix points at Le Mans, bouncing back in style as Binder took second to gain in the title fight, ahead of Bagnaia completing the podium.

After Bagnaia pulled away from the pack to defend his top 3, Marini got the better of Marquez to take 4th place. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) was all over the rear of the battle for 4th in the last couple of laps, but lost ground after a crucial mistake in the closing stages halted his progress and saw the Frenchman settle for 6th.

Meanwhile, further back there was a gaggle of riders swapping paintwork as Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) got the better of the chasing Aprilia Racing riders of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales to take 7th place with the Aprilias 8th and 9th respectively. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completed the top ten.

The tough home Grand Prix for Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) continued as the Frenchman crashed out of the Sprint to the dismay of the home crowd. Rider perfectly ok. He’d made an absolutely charge up from 13th on the grid, but lost the chance to move forward to the podium battle.

If Saturday’s action at the SHARK Grand Prix de France is anything to go by, you do not want to miss any of the action on Sunday’s billing as the race gets underway at 14:00 local time (GMT +2)! Join us for more tomorrow!

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