Jorge Martin is Closing in on Bagnaia in Japan
Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) took yet another chuck out of Francesco Bagnaia’s championship lead in the Japanese Grand Prix Sprint race today. Bagnaia is now just 8 points ahead of Martin in the Championship standings. This means that there is potential for a championship leader swing this weekend in the Grand Prix which would be the first swing we’ve seen in the 2023 campaign. An elated Martin stated after the race, “I couldn’t be happier, Pole and Sprint today, I’m super satisfied. Together with the team, we’re doing an incredible job, and I can say we’re under a lucky star… but we deserve it.”
Bagnaia Loses Grasp on Championship
Bagnaia has dominated all season but a recent downturn in form plagued with crashes and mechanical failures has seen Bagnaia’s grasp on the title dwindle round by round. Martin was admittedly nervous on the day but he didn’t let that affect him. Martin won the race form pole and Bagnaia is now the one who is feeling the pressure. Bagnaia didn’t get the best of starts dropping to 4th at the start of the race. Brad Binder (KTM) who took second place in the sprint passed him with ease and Binder’s teammate Jack miller also benefited. Bagnaia had to contend with a feisty Jack Miller (KTM) in the fight for third but would eventually pass him on Lap 10 and wouldn’t look back.
It was an unfortunate day for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) as his Aprilia had more mechanical issues that have seemingly been lingering despite his recent race success. He did not finish the race and retired. Otherwise the sprint was largely uneventful. A number of riders were warned for exceeding track limits. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) was the only rider to receive a long lap penalty in the race. He completed the penalty and finished P18. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing) who currently sits in third in the championship standings didn’t do himself any favors after finishing P7 in the sprint. He lost 8 points in the standing to Bagnaia. There is time for him to gain ground but with Jorge Martin in peak form he will have to make a move soon before the two at the front run away with the title race.