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Absolute showstopper: Martin takes the spoils as Champions clash

Absolute Showstopper: Martin Takes The Spoils As Champions ClashThe Spaniard stormed to his debut Tissot Sprint victory from Binder, ahead of a breathtaking battle between Bagnaia and Marquez.

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.Absolute Showstopper: Martin Takes The Spoils As Champions Clash

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!

Absolute Showstopper: Martin Takes The Spoils As Champions ClashMotoGP Top 4 – Sprint Result – French GP
1. Jorge MARTIN – SPA – Prima Pramac Racing – 19’59.037
2. Brad BINDER – RSA – Red Bull KTM Factory – +1.840
3. Francesco BAGNAIA – ITA – Ducati Lenovo Team – +2.632
4. Luca MARINI – ITA – Mooney VR46 Team – +3.418

MotoGP Top 4 Championship Points after Sprint – French GP
1. Francesco BAGNAIA – ITA – Ducati Lenovo Team – 94pts
2. Brad BINDER – RSA – Red Bull KTM Factory – 71pts
3. Marco BEZZECCHI – ITA – Mooney VR46 Team – 68pts
4. Jorge MARTIN – SPA – Prima Pramac Racing – 60pts

Absolute Showstopper: Martin Takes The Spoils As Champions ClashQUOTES
JORGE MARTIN: “I finally made it. I’m super proud of my team, and proud of myself because I’ve finally come back to the first position. It’s been a long time. it’s only a Sprint race but at least I got that feeling of the leading of not making mistakes and keeping the hammer down. Making that gap with Brad wasn’t easy but finally, I could make those two laps a bit more relaxed and yeah, I enjoyed a lot those last corners to finish in first position!”

BRAD BINDER: “I knew this start was everything. If I could get a decent launch off the line, cut my way through, and just hang with the boys at the beginning I knew I could probably bring it home in a decent spot. So I gave my best out there today, I need to say thank you to my team they did an incredible job again. It’s clear what we can improve for tomorrow, so I’m really looking forward to it. I think we can do a much better job in the long race.”

QUOTES: BAGNAIA & MARQUEZ WEIGH IN
PECCO BAGNAIA: “The battle was fun, I was enjoying it, it was quite aggressive but it’s the way I like to race. So I don’t understand the way they judged it because two weeks ago I got a penalty. And I’m NOT asking for a penalty for Marc, I’m just asking why I got one, it was normal like mine was. I think it’s correct to follow this line! It was aggressive but I like it. Battles have to be aggressive, for me. I’d like to continue like this.

“When there’s contact you’re upset in that moment, with the adrenaline and tension. But for me the battles like this is normal and we have to keep it like this.”

MARC MARQUEZ: “For me we must stop speaking about these small things and overtakes. I spoke with Pecco and he wasn’t angry at me. More upset because he was penalised in Jerez and I wasn’t here. They’re different actions but… guys, this is MotoGP. It’s my 11th year in the category, I think. If you want to overtake it’ll always be a close overtake and I think it’s what the fans enjoy.

“Yesterday the Stewards were in the Safety Commission and I gave my opinion. My opinion on this year is that everything that’s happened in the races has been a racing incident – the only one that should be penalised was my one in Portimao, because it was a big mistake! That one must be penalised. The rest were racing incidents and what happened today at Turn 3 was completely normal.”

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