Jorge Martin held the lead from the start to win the sprint race at India’s debut MotoGP on Saturday and close the gap on championship leader Francesco Bagnaia.
Ducati-Pramac rider Martin started second on the grid and jumped into the lead, while a crash on the first corner saw Marco Bezzecchi slip back from pole position.
World champion Bagnaia came second and Marc Marquez completed the podium at the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi.
Bezzecchi’s Ducati-VR46 got hit from the rear by teammate Luca Marini, who crashed out along with Stefan Bradl and Pol Espargaro.
Marini fractured his left collarbone and will miss today’s main race.
The sprint belonged to Martin, who won the previous MotoGP at Misano, with the Spaniard remaining in control as others slipped away.
“The moments before the race were difficult because of a lot of time in the box and it was difficult to concentrate,” Martin said about a rain delay.
“But finally everything went well. I did a great start and that was my plan. I got half a second in the first lap and then I tried to push more to increase the gap.”
The race was trimmed by a lap after riders complained about the heat in Friday’s practice sessions, but he said the conditions for the sprint had been good.
“With low temperature it was nice to ride,” he added. “I am the best so far in my career but hope to keep improving.”
Bagnaia, sitting on the next chair, quickly responded: “Hope not.”
Bezzecchi, who scorched the track in the second qualifying session, climbed back up several places over the course of the sprint to finish fifth in a race watched by hundreds in the stands.
– Alex Marquez injury – Bezzecchi said the result was not what he was looking for despite being very “strong at braking”.
Italy’s Bagnaia kept his composure to finish second.
“It was a good race. It’s never frustrating when you finish on the podium for sure,” said Bagnaia, who now leads the championship on 292 points, 33 points clear of Martin.
“Following Jorge was too much. He has the best advantage while breaking.”
On the heat, Bagnaia said: “For me the temperature is not a problem honestly... I don’t suffer too much in the hot conditions.”
The sprint was pushed back to accommodate a 15-minute wet session following heavy afternoon rain.
With a few wet patches on the course, three more riders including Aleix Espargaro, Johann Zarco and Joan Mir failed to finish.
Alex Marquez – ninth in the standings – was ruled out of both the sprint and today’s Grand Prix race when the Spaniard crashed on his Ducati-Gresini and fractured two ribs in the first qualifying session.
Marquez, younger brother to six-time world champion Marc Marquez, was in pain when he was helped out by the medics and later taken to hospital for scans.
Revised grid for the India MotoGP
Front row: 1. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46), 2. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac), 3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati)
2nd row: 4. Joan Mir (ESP/Honda), 5. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda), 6. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac)
3rd row: 7. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha), 8. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia), 9. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia)
4th row: 10. Raul Fernandez (ESP/Aprilia-RNF), 11. Fabio de Giannantonio (FRA/Ducati), 12. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM)
5th row: 13. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda), 14. Jack Miller (AUS/KTM), 15. Franco Morbidelli (FRA/Yamaha)
6th row: 16. Augusto Fernandez (ESP/KTM), 17. Miguel Oliveira (POR/Aprilia), 18. Pol Espargaro (ESP/KTM).
Prima Pramac Racing’s Spanish rider Jorge Martin celebrates after winning the sprint race of the Indian MotoGP Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, New Delhi, on Saturday. (AFP)