MotoGP

Martin Beats Marquez And Bagnaia In Nail-biter

Published: 13, May 2024

Pramac’s Jorge Martin prevailed in a nail-biting MotoGP French Grand Prix to defeat Marc Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia and extend his championship lead.

Having dominated the sprint race on Saturday, Martin converted pole to a second grand prix victory of the 2024 season to build up a lead of 38 points in the championship.

Shadowing the factory Ducati of Bagnaia for much of the 27-lap contest, Martin made his decisive move on the 21st circuit to claim the lead.

Resisting considerable pressure from Bagnaia over the final few circuits, Martin’s victory was ensured on the final tour when Marquez – who started 13th – surged into second at Turn 9.

Martin took the chequered flag 0.446 seconds clear of Marquez, with Bagnaia third, while Ducati team-mate Enea Bastianini recovered from a lengthy lap penalty to fourth ahead of Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales.

Following his bike difficulties that ruled him out of the sprint on Saturday, Bagnaia landed the launch of the line to take the holeshot from Martin and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro.

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Marquez made another excellent start from 13th on the grid to get up to eighth after the opening circuits.

Bagnaia and Martin soon placed a few tenths between themselves and the battle for third, which was headed by Espargaro before VR46 Ducati rider Fabio Di Giannantonio passed him at Turn 8 on lap 10.

Espargaro soon found himself overwhelmed by team-mate Vinales and then Marquez, with the latter two swapping positions on lap 14.

Marquez moved his Gresini Ducati ahead of Di Giannantonio at the Dunlop chicane at the start of lap 17, with the latter sprinting through the chicane attempting to defend third and garnering himself a lengthy lap penalty.

Bagnaia and Martin held a two-second margin over Marquez, whose performance was superior at this phase of the race then theirs.

That margin narrowed to 1.3s at the start of lap 20 when Martin made his first assault on Bagnaia’s lead at the Dunlop chicane, but couldn’t make the move hold.

When Martin finally found his way through on the reigning world champion on the following lap – again at Dunlop – Marquez was just 0.8s behind.

Marquez soon moved onto the rear of the lead battle and the trio broke away from Vinales behind, who would come under pressure from Bastianini late on.

Martin gave Bagnaia a sniff at retaking the lead at Dunlop on lap 25 when he ran deep, but the Pramac rider held steadfast.

He led onto the final lap and kept the door sealed to Bagnaia, whose chances were terminated when Marquez scythed past on the brakes into Turn 9.

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This opened Martin’s lead up to 0.446s while Marquez ensured Bagnaia had no means to strike back as they took the chequered flag.

Bastianini was issued a lengthy circuit penalty for skipping the Turn 9/10 chicane when passing Espargaro for sixth on the 12th cycle.

Quickly serving the penalty, Bastianini fought back to fourth ahead of Vinales and Di Giannantonio after the VR46 rider’s transgression.

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Franco Morbidelli was seventh on the second Pramac Ducati, marking his highest grand prix result in 2024.

Brad Binder was eighth having started last on the factory KTM, with Espargaro and Gresini’s Alex Marquez closing out the top 10.

The final points went to Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez, LCR Honda’s Johann Zarco, Tech3 GasGas rider Augusto Fernandez, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR) and Yamaha’s Alex Rins.

Luca Marini was the penultimate classified racer in 16th on his factory Honda, with team-mate Joan Mir falling out.

Home hero Fabio Quartararo was riding inside the top eight when he tumbled off his Yamaha at Turn 9 on lap 17.

VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi registered his second race accident of the weekend when he skidded out of seventh at Turn 6 on lap four, while Tech3 newcomer Pedro Acosta went down on the previous tour.

KTM’s Jack Miller and Trackhouse Racing’s Miguel Oliveira also failed to reach the finish.