Motorcycle Racing

Bastianini romps to comeback win, Bagnaia opens title lead

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Bastianini has enjoyed his best weekend of the season at the Sepang International Circuit, having made a breakthrough with the set-up of his Ducati to improve his corner entry performance.

In a year in which he missed eight grands prix through numerous injury woes, Bastianini’s factory Ducati seat has come under threat, as rumours mount that Jorge Martin could be promoted from Pramac.

Leading from Turn 1 from third on the grid, Bastianini stormed clear of Gresini’s Alex Marquez to score his fifth grand prix victory and first as a factory Ducati rider by 1.535 seconds.

Marquez held onto second to add to his sprint win from Saturday, while Bagnaia saw off an early challenge from title rival Martin to complete the podium.

This has opened Bagnaia’s championship lead up to 14 points moving to next weekend’s Qatar GP, with Martin fourth in the race at Sepang.

Pramac’s Martin looked to get the better initial launch off the line at the start of the 20-lap grand prix, but ran wide on the run into Turn 1.

This allowed Bastianini to come through on the inside to take the lead, as Marquez on the Gresini Ducati jumped up to second ahead of Bagnaia.

Martin dropped to fifth behind VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi in the opening corners, but quickly moved back ahead at Turn 14 with a tight move.

The top two already had a 0.5s lead over Bagnaia come the end of lap one, while two laps later Martin launched a raid on third.

Martin tried to go up the inside of Bagnaia at the Turn 14 right-hander, but ran slightly wide and allowed his factory Ducati counterpart to scythe back past.

At Turn 4 on lap four, Martin tried again but ran wide once more, letting Bagnaia lean on him into Turn 5 and hold onto third.

After this battling, the top two were already 1.5s clear of Bagnaia, who was starting to drop Martin.

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

A battle for the lead never materialised, with Bastianini steadily extending his gap over Marquez and went unchallenged to the chequered flag.

Bagnaia streaked 6.9s clear of Martin, while Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was a fighting fifth after passing Bezzecchi late on.

Sixth for Bezzecchi has officially ruled him out of the championship battle.

Franco Morbidelli was seventh on the sister factory Yamaha ahead of KTM’s Jack Miller, Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio and VR46’s Luca Marini.

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