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Thursday, February 22, 2024

The important thing moments in Bagnaia’s 2023 MotoGP title defence

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Bagnaia made historical past in 2021 when he overturned a 91-point deficit to finish a 15-year watch for Ducati’s second world title in MotoGP.

Dominant within the first half of 2023, Bagnaia led the championship by 66 factors after the dash in Barcelona solely to crash out of that grand prix and undergo damage in a horrible collision with Brad Binder.

Pramac’s Jorge Martin was capable of capitalise on this as he got here right into a purple patch, briefly overhauling Bagnaia within the standings by seven factors after the dash in Indonesia earlier than shedding it once more within the grand prix.

The pair got here into the finale break up by 14 factors, however Bagnaia gained the Valencia GP after Martin crashed with Marc Marquez.

Bagnaia’s benefit over Martin on the finish of the season stood at 39 factors as he turned the primary rider since Marc Marquez in 2019 to efficiently defend their crown.

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Listed below are the important thing moments of Bagnaia’s 2023 season.

Portuguese GP – Spherical 1

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia set the tone for his 12 months with a robust begin to his title defence at Portimao

After the issues of the pre-season the 12 months earlier than, which finally led to Bagnaia ditching the complete 2022-spec Ducati engine in favour of a hybrid model extra akin to the 2021 unit, 2023 couldn’t have been extra totally different.

A powerful testing interval on the GP23 gave strategy to an emphatic begin to Bagnaia’s title defence in Portugal at first of the marketing campaign, successful the primary ever MotoGP dash race and heading off Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales to scoop the grand prix.

An ideal 37 factors signalled intent from Bagnaia that 2023 could be vastly totally different to the 12 months earlier than, the place he was pressured to overturn a hefty mid-season deficit to finally take the crown.

Spanish GP – Spherical 4

Recovering from two crashes, Bagnaia reclaimed the points lead in Jerez

Photograph by: Dorna

Recovering from two crashes, Bagnaia reclaimed the factors lead in Jerez

Bagnaia remained fast all through the Argentina and Americas weekends. However within the former, he struggled to sixth within the dash earlier than crashing whereas working a cushty second within the grand prix.

And in America, he began on pole and gained the dash, solely to crash whereas main on the Circuit of the Americas within the grand prix. Blaming his Ducati for being too excellent, and thus too secure for him to have the ability to really feel the place the restrict of the front-end was, Bagnaia rolled again on this at Jerez.

As {old} habits had been clearly dying laborious, an enormous weekend in Spain was a should. Coming by means of Q1 to qualify fifth, Bagnaia solely simply misplaced out within the dash to KTM’s Brad Binder earlier than securing his second grand prix win of the season on the Sunday.

Crucially, it returned him to the highest of the championship standings by 22 factors over erstwhile chief Marco Bezzecchi – the VR46 rider having damaged his win duck in Argentina.

Italian GP – Spherical 6

After another setback at Le Mans, Bagnaia set things right again on home turf at Mugello

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

After one other setback at Le Mans, Bagnaia set issues proper once more on house turf at Mugello

Simply as issues had been wanting up for Bagnaia, they got here crashing down once more at Le Mans.

A podium within the dash, having certified on pole, bought his weekend off to a stable begin. However a collision with Vinales within the grand prix led to his third non-score on a Sunday from the primary six rounds and a crack in his foot for good measure.

It additionally put Bezzecchi, who gained the French GP, again onto his tail at only one level adrift within the championship standings.

However at Mugello, on house soil for Bagnaia and Ducati, he turned out one other champion’s efficiency. Qualifying on pole with a brand new lap document, Bagnaia snatched dash victory from Bezzecchi and Martin, then doubled up within the grand prix over the latter.

He prolonged his championship lead over Bezzecchi to 21 factors, although now Martin was beginning to shut in at 24 behind.

Austrian GP – Spherical 10

A masterful double at the Red Bull Ring was arguably the pinnacle of Bagnaia's year

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

A masterful double on the Purple Bull Ring was arguably the head of Bagnaia’s 12 months

After his Mugello double, Bagnaia misplaced out to Martin within the dash in Germany and couldn’t overhaul the Pramac rider in an exhilarating cube for victory within the grand prix.

He responded at Assen with victory forward of the summer season break, however scored nothing in a dash for the primary time in 2023 at a soaking Silverstone and had the grand prix win snatched from him on the ultimate lap of the British GP by Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro.

The harm to his championship cost was minimal, in fact, his hole standing at 41 factors heading to Austria as Martin’s kind wavered over the Dutch and British GPs.

Austria arguably marked the height of Bagnaia’s season. Qualifying on pole, he led each lap of the dash to beat KTM’s Binder by 2.056s, and did so once more within the grand prix to attain his fifth Sunday win of the season.

With Martin seventh within the grand prix having been awarded a protracted lap for triggering a Flip 1 pile-up at first of the dash, the harm Bagnaia inflicted was large as his factors lead elevated to 62.

San Marino GP – Spherical 12

Riding through the pain barrier at Misano following his Barcelona crash, Bagnaia performed effective damage limitation

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Using by means of the ache barrier at Misano following his Barcelona crash, Bagnaia carried out efficient harm limitation

This was on no account Bagnaia’s greatest weekend of the season, nevertheless it was massively essential within the defence of his championship.

The very fact he even made it to Misano within the first place was an unimaginable feat, having suffered extreme bruising to his proper leg after being run over by Binder on the opening lap of the earlier week’s Catalan GP.

Happily Bagnaia escaped critical damage and was capable of race at Misano, ending a good third in each the dash and the grand prix.

Having been 66 factors clear within the championship after his dash victory in Barcelona, Bagnaia was now solely 36 forward of Martin after the Pramac rider’s Misano double. However the harm might have been far worse had it not been for Bagnaia’s willpower.

Indonesian GP – Spherical 15

An unexpected win in Indonesia after Martin had crashed out of a dominant position halted what had been a steady erosion of Bagnaia's advantage

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

An sudden win in Indonesia after Martin had crashed out of a dominant place halted what had been a gradual erosion of Bagnaia’s benefit

By this level of the marketing campaign, Martin was on a excessive having carried out the double at Misano; gained the dash and completed second within the GP in India; then doubled up once more in Japan.

Arriving to the Indonesian GP, Martin was simply three factors shy of Bagnaia and vaulted seven clear after successful the dash whereas his manufacturing unit Ducati rival might solely get better from thirteenth to complete eighth.

Within the grand prix, Martin was on the right track to dominate when he crashed late on main by over three seconds. Bagnaia brilliantly labored his means by means of the order and went on to win the grand prix, restoring his championship result in 18 factors heading to Australia.

Australian GP – Spherical 16

Another victory slipped away from Martin at Phillip Island, where Bagnaia's nous shone through

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

One other victory slipped away from Martin at Phillip Island, the place Bagnaia’s nous shone by means of

Martin didn’t seem like he was going to let his Indonesian GP gaffe dent his confidence, as he proved as soon as once more because the rider to beat when the championship reached Phillip Island the next week.

Launching from pole, Martin was considered one of just a few riders to gamble on the softer rear tyre for the grand prix.

As soon as once more breaking away by over three seconds, he appeared on the right track so as to add to his grand prix victory haul for the season. However his gentle tyre light dramatically within the closing laps, and he would hunch from first to fifth throughout the final tour.

Crucially, Bagnaia was capable of leap as much as second having tactically saved his tyres in test and ridden cautiously within the first half of the grand prix, realizing Martin would finally come again to him.

Extending his championship result in 27 factors, Bagnaia confirmed in Australia the mindfulness wanted to win a world title.

Malaysian GP – Spherical 18

As Martin was forced into a conservative approach by a tyre pressure warning, Bagnaia ruthlessly took advantage in Sepang

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

As Martin was pressured right into a conservative method by a tyre stress warning, Bagnaia ruthlessly took benefit in Sepang

Martin’s double victory in Thailand put him 13 factors behind Bagnaia heading to Malaysia, however he had copped an official warning for using beneath the minimal tyre stress restrict in Sunday’s grand prix at Buriram.

This pressured a extra cautious method from the Pramac squad on tyre pressures at Sepang, one thing Bagnaia took full benefit of.

Whereas Martin had the sting within the dash, Bagnaia pulled clear within the grand prix after their battle for third within the early levels earlier than streaking over six seconds clear to safe the rostrum.

Bagnaia did find yourself with an official warning for breaking the tyre stress rule, nonetheless, establishing a precarious finish to the championship race. Nevertheless, the 14-point lead he left Malaysia with was sufficient to provide him his first match level within the penultimate spherical in Qatar.

Spherical 19 – Qatar

Although he couldn't beat Di Giannantonio to the win in Qatar, Martin's tyre woes gave Bagnaia a healthy cushion for Valencia

Photograph by: MotoGP

Though he could not beat Di Giannantonio to the win in Qatar, Martin’s tyre woes gave Bagnaia a wholesome cushion for Valencia

However Bagnaia’s first match level in Qatar didn’t go to plan. Rear tyre points within the dash noticed him end fifth, whereas Martin took an emphatic victory.

The championship hole between them was trimmed to seven factors. However within the grand prix, tyre points impacted Martin and despatched him tumbling down the order to tenth.

Bagnaia led for a lot of the competition, earlier than finally shedding out to Fabio Di Giannantonio – and virtually crashing into him moments after shedding the lead down into Flip 1.

Surviving his late scare, Bagnaia got here by means of to complete second and open up the factors hole to 21 heading to Valencia.

Spherical 20 – Valencia GP

Martin's tangle with Marc Marquez in Valencia spelt the end of his ever diminishing hopes

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Martin’s tangle with Marc Marquez in Valencia spelt the tip of his ever diminishing hopes

Martin reduce Bagnaia’s championship lead down as soon as extra to only 14 factors after successful the dash whereas his rival was fifth, although the higher hand belonged to the manufacturing unit Ducati rider nonetheless.

Promoted to pole after Maverick Vinales was hit with a grid penalty, Bagnaia took the holeshot within the grand prix as Martin leaped as much as second.

Martin would run him shut, however his hopes light when he ran off at Flip 1 after outbraking himself on lap three.

On lap six, Martin crashed out in a conflict with Marc Marquez which meant the title was Bagnaia’s. And for good measure, so too was a seventh grand prix win of the season.

Bagnaia is now a two-time MotoGP world champion for Ducati

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia is now a two-time MotoGP world champion for Ducati



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