Pecco Bagnaia managed his first weekend as number one in the MotoGP World Championship with pleasure. The reigning world champion dominated the first race of the event in 2023 with insulting authority and demonstrated, once again, the superiority of the Ducati. The Borgo Panigale brand put four of the five Italian motorcycles that finished in the lead. Only Maverick Viñales, with a creditable second for Aprilia, slipped through the bullets in Bologna. Marco Bezzecchi completed the podium and Johann Zarco and Álex Márquez, the Top 5.
In a race without as much history as the sprint on Saturday, much more intense and fought, Bagnaia was able to set his pace from the second lap, when he took the lead and no longer had to look back until he crossed the finish line. After a scare at the start with Marc Márquez, the other great protagonist of the day, the man from Turin signed the plenary session adding 37 points out of 37 possible in the premiere of the new weekend format. “This has started as I and the team wanted”, celebrated the benchmark of the championship, forceful and effective on the track. “This has given me a lot of strength. I want to show that I am number one,” he added.
The eldest of the Márquez family, encouraged by his stratospheric Saturday in Portimao – where he won the pole and a podium in the sprint–, he over-revved on the third lap when he was fourth and, after entering the third corner of the circuit far behind, he took Miguel Oliveira, the local idol, who was running second. The Portuguese was left lying on the edge of the track, visibly hurt, and the man from Cervera immediately approached to apologize. In the action, the Honda man also hit Jorge Martín, who after the scare fell from third to fifteenth place and then crashed five laps from the end. The Pramac Ducati rider from Madrid fractured a toe on his right foot in the incident, while the Portuguese suffered no apparent injuries in a first exploration on the circuit.
Marc Márquez, injured and sanctioned
Already showered and changed, head down and a little lame after the bump, Marc approached the Aprilia box to apologize to the Portuguese team and then to the public, who did not forgive him and whistled loudly from the stands. The revolution of 93 lasted a day and ended with the reference of Honda in a cast after his strong strike against Martin and Oliveira. The new injury is another blow for the pilot, who this Monday will undergo more medical tests in Barcelona to confirm the extent of his thumb ailment. “There is a possible fracture in the first metacarpal of the right hand,” said the World Cup medical officer, Dr. Ángel Charte. The setback could affect the eighth world champion’s participation in the Argentine GP, which will take place next weekend at Termas de Río Hondo.
The championship commissioners, as the pilot and his entourage already expected, imposed a two-lap long penalty on Márquez – which consists of deviating from the usual line in a designated area that varies in each circuit and entails the loss of about two additional seconds – for the next race for “being too aggressive and causing a collision”. The runner, for his part, focused on his apology and did not provide further details about his physical condition: “I cannot and do not want to answer whether I will be in Argentina, because now it is not the most important thing. The most important thing is that Miguel is fine. Today another rider crashed because of me, due to a mistake, and he felt very bad for me. That’s why I ask you
excuse me”. The collision, according to him, came after the front wheel of his Honda locked up under braking and the bike was thrown towards his rivals due to accumulated inertia. “When I released the motorcycle brake, the steering was closed because Martín was there. I have not been able to avoid Oliveira, ”he lamented.
The benchmark accident left the best Honda, that of Álex Rins, in tenth position. In front, eight of the first ten bikes were European, with a disappointed Fabio Quartararo leaving the first Japanese machine, his Yamaha with a clear lack of punch, in eighth position. The relentless fight in the last two laps for the fourth place that the youngest of the Márquez had occupied left some of the most beautiful overtaking of the day. Zarco, who went from less to more, was able to overtake Brad Binder’s KTM and his brand mate with a masterful last lap. The leading role, however, was taken by the blow of the oldest of the Márquez and, in the background, the overwhelming victory of Bagnaia, the first leader of the World Cup.
“Asking for forgiveness no longer works”
“Mother of God”, said Maverick Viñales after seeing the action of Márquez’s accident repeated just before getting on the podium. The incredulous reaction of some pilots already hinted that there would be controversy in the paddock. Jorge Martín, who ended up injured in the incident, was very hard against the Honda benchmark in statements to Motorsport.com: “It’s not the first time he’s thrown at me. Apologizing to the pilot and the public no longer works”. Another who harshly criticized the man from Cervera was Aleix Espargaró, who charged against the timid sanction of two long laps imposed by the commissioners. “He deserves to be penalized with at least one race. If not, it’s ridiculous, ”he explained, visibly upset. On the first weekend of competition, four drivers had to visit the Faro hospital in Portugal.