Francesco Bagnaia continues to roll in MotoGP at San Marino with fourth straight win

·3 min read
MotoGP Of San Marino - Race
MotoGP Of San Marino - Race

Francesco Bagnaia scored his fourth consecutive MotoGP win at San Marino and closed to within 30 of points’ leader Fabio Quartararo. Unlike last week’s Austrian GP, Quartararo was not able to keep the pressure on and lost 14 points to Bagnaia with his fifth-place finish.

With this win, Bagnaia became the first Ducati rider to win four MotoGP wins in a row, but to do so he had to hold off fellow Ducati rider and next year’s teammate Enea Bastianini by a slim .034-second margin.

Jack Miller grabbed the holeshot, but Bagnaia was not far behind in third. Separate accidents involving Miller and Marco Bezzecchi opened the door on Lap 3 for Bagnaia to slip through, but he was being pursued by Bastianini and Maverick Vinales. Bastianini charged hard in the final laps, but was forced to reign in his effort after receiving a track limits warning.

On the final lap, Bastianini braked hard in Turn 4 and nearly lost control. By Turn 10, he had completely recovered and kept closing ground right until the checkers.

Vinales held onto third with Italy’s Luca Marini tying a career-best fourth.

But an equally dramatic storyline developed deeper in the field.

The riders who entered the San Marino GP first and second in the points were embroiled in a battle of their own, but it was for the fifth position.

Starting eighth Quartararo had ground to make up from the start. He and Aleix Espargaro raced one another closely, but it opened the door for Bagnaia to tighten the points battle on Quartararo and take second away from Espargaro. Over the course of the last four races, Bagnaia’s 100 points has easily outpaced Quartararo’s 39 and 40.

“I’m happy, but it hasn’t been a disaster,” Espargaro said after earning his second straight sixth-place finish. “I said from the beginning of the year that Austria, Misano and America will be very tough races. America was a big disaster. Austria and Misano finished sixth and sixth. Before the Assen race, I was at 32 points (out of first). Now I’m at 33 points, so it’s not that bad. You have to be positive.

“In the past when I finished sixth, we had a party in Aprilia! So very difficult circuits for me. I made a big, big, big effort, super focused, working and giving my best and I finished sixth in both races. So now it’s downhill. We go to a very good circuit where I have really, really good feeling with this bike, in the past also. So I can’t wait. It’s going to be a really nice last part of the Championship.”

Quartararo believes the next round in Aragon two weeks from now may provide an even more challenging task, potentially allowing Bagnaia to gain even more ground. Six rounds remain in the 2023 title hunt. Bagnaia’s MotoGP win at San Marino means he now needs to gain five points per race to catch the leader.

In Moto2, Alonso Lopez scored the win over Aron Canet and Augusto Fernandez. Albert Aransas completed a top-four sweep for Spanish riders.

It wasn’t the win he wanted, but Fernandez’s third-place-finish and 16 points earned were enough to elevate him above Ai Ogura by two markers to top Moto2’s championship standings.

American Joe Roberts finished ninth and scored points for the 13th time in 14 rounds. Roberts currently sits sixth in the points’ standings.

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Francesco Bagnaia continues to roll in MotoGP at San Marino with fourth straight win originally appeared on NBCSports.com