Alex Marquez put together an emphatic ride to secure victory in the Malaysian MotoGP Grand Prix sprint race, while Jorge Martin narrowed Francesco Bagnaia’s series lead further.

Marquez made a strong start from fourth on the grid to claim third as the field exited the opening corner as Martin fell to fourth, though he soon managed to wrangle away second from Enea Bastianini and ended the opening lap sat in the runners-up position.

With his Ducati looking more agile than Bagnaia’s, Marquez looked left and right for a way to the lead. He first tried at the final bend, though he ran wide and allowed Martin – who by this point had also moved clear on Bastianini – ahead of him.

Marquez soon redressed the balance and restarted his pursuit of the leadership, a quest that would bear fruit after the Gresini man dived through on Bagnaia at Turn 10 just past mid-distance.

An opportunistic Martin took the chance to swiftly demote Bagnaia to third just a couple bends later, though the Pramac man was powerless to do anything about Marquez up ahead as he began to escape.

Building a lead of over a second in just two laps, Marquez ultimately took the chequered flag 1.589s clear of Martin to secure his second sprint race success of the year at the Sepang International Circuit.

Bagnaia meanwhile held onto third just behind his title rival, though Bastianini clearly looked faster and likely played the team game as he held off the advances of a charging Brad Binder on the final lap.

Bagnaia’s lead over Martin has thus been reduced to 11 points ahead of Sunday’s full-length grand prix event.

Binder managed to pass Bastianini at the final bend on the last lap after he ran wide, though due to this the Italian got a much better exit and sling-shotted back past the KTM into fourth by the time the duo had crossed the line.  

Jack Miller looked quick in the early laps before eventually fading back to sixth ahead of VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi, while the points scorers were completed by the other Pramac entry of Johann Zarco and the sister VR46 Ducati of Luca Marini.

Maverick Vinales was the first to miss out on points, the Aprilia man completing the top ten just ahead of Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli.

Fabio Quartararo could manage only 16th after a bad start dropped him towards the back of the pack, the Yamaha racer struggling to make ground behind GasGas duo Augusto Fernandez and Pol Espargaro.

The only two crashers in the race came in the shape of the Repsol Honda men. Marc Marquez went down at Turn 14 just a few laps into the contest, while Joan Mir fell victim to Turn 15 just a couple tours after.

Both re-mounted their RC213Vs and took the chequered flag in 21st and 23rd respectively, Marquez getting the better of Ducati wildcard Alvaro Bautista as he hit trouble towards the end.

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