Binder edges Bagnaia to win Spanish MotoGP sprint
South African Brad Binder won the sprint at the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday edging reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia.
KTM's Binder finished 0.48sec ahead of Bagnaia on a Ducati as the Italian cut compatriot Marco Bezzecchi's lead in this year's standings after the Mooney-Ducati rider collected just one point for eighth.
After dominating practice and qualifying for two days Spaniard Aleix Espargaro crashed his Aprilia on the sixth lap.
Binder and Bagnaia had finished outside the top 10 in practice and been forced to ride in the opening qualifying earlier in the day where they grabbed the last two spots in the shootout for the first four rows on the grid.
They made the most of their second chances by grabbing places on the second row in the last qualifying session.
Starting from the fourth position was Binder, who also won the sprint in Argentina. After KTM team-mate Jack Miller, who started on the front row, seized the early lead, Binder and Bagnaia gave chase. They overtook the Australian in the last two laps.
Ducati-Pramac's Jorge Martin, who put pressure on Bagnaia for a long time without managing to overtake, finished fourth ahead of Portuguese Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia RNF)and Spanish veteran Daniel Pedrosa (KTM).
The race was interrupted on the first lap after an accident caused by Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) brought down Bezzecchi and Spaniards Alex Marquez (Ducati-Gresini) and Augusto Fernandez (KTM-GasGas). The four riders were unharmed.
Morbidelli said he was grateful to Japan's Takaaki Nakagami, on a Honda, for not running over him as he lay helpless on the track.
"I want to thank Taka especially for his reflexes in avoiding me. I think he deserves a nice present," said Morbidelli.
"He did the maximum to avoid me -- it could have been much worse."
Fabio Quartararo, the 2021 world champion was down in 12th place, more than seven seconds off the pace with Yamaha factory teammate Morbidelli a lowly 16th after his early drama.
"It was a complicated day," admitted French rider Quartararo.