Marco Bezzecchi secured victory in the inaugural Indian MotoGP race in dominant fashion, while Jorge Martin slashed Francesco Bagnaia’s series lead after he crashed in the latter stages.
Bezzecchi made a poor start as he did in Saturday’s sprint encounter and dropped from his pole position to third after the opening few corners, while Martin and Bagnaia battled over the leadership.
Martin braked too late into Turn 3 for the first time though and ran wide, dropping to third behind Bagnaia and Bezzecchi, though the latter soon began to pressure the factory Ducati rider to gain the leadership.
Bezzecchi wasn’t hanging around and managed to wrangle away the lead from Bagnaia with a commanding move at the final bend, the VR46 Ducati man swiftly building up a gap to his pursuers as Bagnaia focussed on holding off main title rival Martin.
Bezzecchi, who opted for the soft rear tire and the medium front, continued to pull clear across the rest of the encounter even after sprint victor Martin, who chose the medium tires all round, got clear of Bagnaia.
He eventually took the chequered flag 6.6 seconds clear to record his third win of the 2023 season having led every lap of the race.
The battle for second went right down to the wire as Martin began to struggle in the closing stages of the encounter, the Pramac racer first passed by Bagnaia before disaster struck for the championship leader.
Bagnaia looked to put some distance between him and his title rival having re-gained second, though ran slightly wide and lost the front of his machine on entry to Turn 5 with around a third of the race remaining, ending his day in the gravel.
Martin continued to struggle though, as he at one point had to zip up his leathers as they came undone, before a mistake on the very last lap at Turn 4 allowed Yamaha’s Fabio Quaratraro through.
An aggressive move at the esses put him back ahead, and a dogged defence over the final few turns allowed him to narrowly hang onto the runners-up spot to reduce Bagnaia’s points advantage down to just 13 ahead of next weekend’s Japanese GP.
Quartararo secured his first rostrum result since April’s Americas GP with third, the 2021 premier class world champion sustaining a strong pace across the race to remain within range of the Ducati’s ahead.
KTM’s Brad Binder once again blazed through the pack to secure fourth from 14th on the grid after getting the better of Honda’s Joan Mir after the Spaniard ran wide at Turn 9 a few laps from home. Fifth still marked Mir’s first top-ten finish of the year, and his first points since finishing 11th in the season-opening Portuguese GP.
Johann Zarco was sixth on the sister Pramac entry ahead of Franco Morbidelli’s Yamaha, while Maverick Vinales recovered from a poor start that saw him run wide and drop to 18th to claim eighth for Aprilia.
Marc Marquez ended up ninth after recovering from an early crash at Turn 1 while chasing Bagnaia, the six-time premier class world champion passing RNF Aprilia’s Raul Fernandez, who completed the top ten, in the closing stanza.
Jack Miller dropped to the rear of the field on the opening lap and could only rally back to 14th in the end, while Gresini’s Fabio Di Gianantonio and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro retired with mechanical dramas while running solidly within the top ten.
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