Bagnaia banishes Barcelona demons as Marquez completes podium comeback

The #1 took to the top step of the podium after a thrilling Catalan GP to finish ahead of Martin and Marc Marquez

After missing an open goal win on Saturday, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) came out swinging on Sunday at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. The reigning Champion needed to make a statement and take some serious points, and that he did on both counts. Quick out the blocks from the start before ceding the lead early doors to Championship leader Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), Bagnaia put in a relentless push to catch the #89, pounce once on the scene, and then edge away to pocket those 25 points on Sunday. 

Behind Martin, the fight to complete the podium boiled down to the duel between Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), and it was almost a photo finish but the #93 took the spoils – making it three Grand Prix podiums in a row for Marquez for the first time since 2019. It was also another stunning comeback ride, this time from P14 on the grid.

As the lights went out, it was a showdown on the brakes into T1 but Bagnaia just held on for the holeshot ahead of Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3), with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) also moving up but the #33 into third. Martin got a good start this time round, taking over in fourth, with polesitter Espargaro the main party losing out.

Into Turn 10 on Lap 1, we had the first big move as Martin made an absolute lunge on Binder, but he got the job done and cleanly enough. It also left a small gap up the road to the leading duo of Bagnaia and Acosta, but it didn’t take long for that gap to close because it didn’t take long for the leading duo to start making moves amongst themselves.

Acosta’s first attack came at Turn 10 after a couple of laps staring at the rear of the Ducati, but Bagnaia kept it tight to immediately take it back. Acosta’s foot was even off the peg. That closed everything up again, with Martin then right on their heels and Binder not too far behind either. Turn 10 staged another one next time round, this time for Championship leader Martin on the rookie – and Acosta was forced to cede it. And again next time around, this time as Martin left it oh-so-late to attack for the lead, taking over before they crossed the line for 19 to go.

The party at Turn 10 didn’t stop there. Next time round there was another decisive move as Acosta attacked Bagnaia and took back over in second, and in a matter of apexes the rookie was back on the exhaust of race leader Martin, looking impatient.

Meanwhile, the squabble behind was heating up. Bagnaia had some breathing space in third but Binder, Espargaro and Raul Fernandez were locked together. After stalking his prey for a while, Espargaro then was able to just nudge ahead into Turn 1, before Raul Fernandez attacked the KTM into Turn 3. Brutal but clean, Binder was pushed back to sixth.

However, that soon become fifth as big drama hit for Acosta. After lighting it up there earlier, it all then came apart for the rookie at Turn 10 as he slid off, leaving Martin just over a second clear in the lead and Bagnaia now the rider on the chase. From there, the chess match began.

Lap after lap, the gap was coming down as the #1 chipped away. A few hundredths here and there, each sector just enough to gain a few extra metres, a mere tenth per lap. But an absolutely relentless tenth per lap. And once he was there, Bagnaia wasted absolutely no time in making his attack. 

With six laps to go, the reigning Champion made his move – and at exactly the place he let big spoils go begging in the Tissot Sprint: Turn 5. No drama, no contact, and nothing Martin could do, the roles were now reversed.

The relentless pace from the #1 continued, however, and the battle of the laptimes was slipping from Martin’s grasp. The gap eked out, came back down slightly and then suddenly went up again. The jig was up as Martin started to fade, leaving Bagnaia with the same task as Saturday: keep it on the same rails to the flag. This time, it was a faultless performance as the Ducati Lenovo rider cuts the gap back to 39 points and Martin, this time round, has to settle for second.

Meanwhile, Marc Marquez was now on the tailpipes of Espargaro. The #93 pulled a carbon copy of the move the Aprilia rider put on Binder a few laps before and was into third – now he just had to hold onto it. After announcing his retirement at the end of 2024 just ahead of the event and taking pole and the Sprint win, the incentive was even bigger than normal for the #41 to make an attack, and he clawed his way onto the back of the Gresini by the final lap. But there was no way through that would have allowed both to finish, so it came down to the final drag to the line – with Marquez just staying ahead for that podium from P14 on the grid.

Espargaro takes fourth to complete an incredible weekend on home turf, with a late charge from Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team) seeing the Italian just pip Raul Fernandez to fifth. Still, after a maiden front row and having led the Sprint, P6 concludes a great weekend for the #25 and Trackhouse Racing – it’s the team’s best result yet.

Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) charged through to seventh as Binder lost out later in the race to finish P8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) kept ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Trackhouse Racing) as they completed the top ten. Marco Bezzecchi (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team), Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), Acosta after remounting, Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda LCR) and Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) completed the points.

There’s one name missing from that last who did cross the line ahead of a few of them, but the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards v Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) intervened. The ‘Beast’ had a dramatic race after he went wide following an attack from Alex Marquez, was deemed to have not lost enough time cutting Turn 2, and then given a Long Lap. He didn’t agree with that, so he rode on. He then got a double Long Lap and served one, unsure if it might have been for another incident, and didn’t serve the second – so it became a ride through. The protest vote rolled on from the #23 and he didn’t take that in time either, so it ended up as a 32s time penalty, the equivalent of a trip through pitlane. Acrimony low but commitment to opinion high, he’ll be looking to prove a point at Mugello.

That’s just next week, as luck would have it, with the spectacular Tuscan venue ready to welcome the world’s most exciting sport for the Gran Premio d’Italia Brembo. Join us then for more as the statement wins just keep on coming – and the history just keeps getting made.

Top 10:

1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team)  
2 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) +1.740
3 Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP) +10.491
4 Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +10.543
5 Fabio Di Giannantonio (Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team)  +15.441
6 Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse Racing) +15.916
7 Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP) +16.882
8 Brad Binder (Red Bull Factory Racing)   +18.578
9 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) +20.477
10 Miguel Oliveira (Trackhouse Racing) +20.889




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