Martin wins Indian GP sprint after Bezzecchi crashes on first turn

motorsport23 September 2023 13:00| © Reuters

Pramac Racing's Jorge Martin won Saturday's sprint at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix ahead of Ducati's championship leader Francesco Bagnaia, after pole-sitter Marco Bezzecchi was involved in a crash at the first turn of the Buddh International Circuit.

Honda's Marc Marquez claimed only his second sprint podium of the season as he finished third ahead of Red Bull KTM rider Brad Binder.

"It was a tricky day, with the rains it was quite complicated. But I understood the track well and had good pace," Martin said in a post-race interview.

"I'm feeling comfortable, we'll see tomorrow. Bezzecchi had some bad luck today."

The sprint was delayed due to wet conditions following a spell of torrential rain earlier in the day, but apart from a few damp patches on the track dry conditions greeted the riders with the sun low on the horizon.

VR46 Racing's Bezzecchi had not put a foot wrong to claim his third pole of the season, but following a poor start he crashed on the first corner when he was clipped by his team mate Luca Marini, who suffered a left collarbone fracture.

Martin started second on the grid but had a perfect launch to take the lead going into the first corner ahead of Bagnaia and the two Hondas of Marc Marquez and Joan Mir.

Mir had looked good in qualifying but he made a mistake on turn three after three laps and lost his balance, allowing Binder to move up to fourth and pressure Marquez for the final podium position.

Bezzecchi rejoined the race and the Italian was a man on a mission as he worked his way up the grid, setting multiple fastest laps. But with only 11 laps in the sprint, he ran out of time yet still managed to finish a creditable fifth.

With Martin and Bagnaia cruising, the biggest battle on the final laps was Marquez keeping Binder at bay for third place and it was the Spaniard who eventually came out on top to give the struggling Honda team a boost.

"This year has been very difficult," Marquez said. "I'm super happy, I know that in a single lap I was fast but always behind somebody. Pecco (Bagnaia) was very far."

The result leaves Bagnaia on 292 points in the riders championship, 33 points ahead of Martin, while Bezzecchi fell 69 points behind the reigning champion.

"We were just very lucky the conditions were better in the sprint," Bagnaia said.

"I had a good race for the situation we're in. Finishing second was the maximum and we have to be happy with it."