MotoGP: Bezzecchi Blitzes All to Take Maiden MotoGP Victory as Bagnaia Makes First Mistake of 2023
Mooney VR46 rider, Marco Bezzecchi storms to an emotional first MotoGP Victory in this weekend’s Argentina Grand Prix, claiming victory by over 4 seconds to Johann Zarco and Alex Marquez.
The Italian’s race long dominance started at lights out, with the satellite Ducati pilot leading the pack into Turn 1, followed by A. Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia in third.
A dramatic opening lap saw Brad Binder hit the deck, after a tangle up with Maverick Viñales at turn 5, while Fabio Quartararo became victim of an aggressive late lunge from Takaki Nakagami. Both incidents resulted in no further action by race direction.
As the second lap commenced, Bezzecchi had already established himself as front runner of the race, pulling a gap of just under three quarters of a second.
All was spaced out between the three front runners, while a battle for fifth unfolded between Zarco and Aleix Espargaró.
Three Ducati’s made up the top five as lap three got underway. With Bezzecchi, A. Marquez and Bagnaia still maintaining podium positions, Morbidelli and Zarco sat just behind in fourth and fifth.
The gap to the lead was stretched out to almost one second on lap 4, with Morbidelli attaching himself onto the back of the leading group.
With the order very much separated towards the front of the field, KTM’s Jack Miller found himself engaged in a battle for seventh with Frenchman Zarco. The Aussie came out on top at 20 laps to go.
More mid-pack drama unfolded throughout the following lap, with A. Espargaró fighting for ninth place with Jorge Martin. Meanwhile the gap at the front was up to 1.2 seconds and was later extended to 1.5 with 19 laps remaining.
The Italian’s pace at the front appeared to be too much for A. Marquez, who found himself losing touch with the back end of the Italian’s VR46 machine.
The gap to the lead stretched up to just under 3 seconds with 16 laps to go, while the real entertainment was underway further downfield between Quartararo and the two Aprilia boys of Viñales and Espargaró.
Further up the field, it was Alex Rins who led the ever-evolving battle for fifth at 15 laps to go, with Zarco and Fabio Di Giannantonio breathing down his neck.
The Pramac Ducati boys were making quite the stir, with teammate, Martin engaged in a fight for eighth with Miller.
With Bagnaia hunting down A. Marquez in second as half race distance was passed, it was still Morbidelli sat in fourth, maintaining a 4-second gap to Rins in fifth.
Rins, continuing to maintain position at the front of the second group, was followed by Zarco and Martin, with Miller in eighth and Di Giannantonio in ninth on lap 13. Before lap 13 was out, Zarco edged past Rins to hold fifth.
On lap 15, Bagnaia had attached himself to the back end of A. Marquez, before making a brief entry into second before the position was regained by the Spaniard.
Bezzecchi was in front by over 5 seconds at lap 16, while Bagnaia edged himself past A. Marquez again, this time to hold his position in second.
With the lead to Bezzecchi only increasing over the next few laps, second pace man and championship favorite, Bagnaia fell victim to his first mistake of 2023, losing the front of his GP23 machine at turn 13 with eight laps remaining.
It was head in hands for Davide Tardozzi, as his star man lost the championship lead, falling down the order only to rejoin the field outside of the points.
7 laps remaining and Zarco pressed activate on late-race pace, beginning to chase down Morbidelli and A. Marquez in an attempt to battle for a podium.
Meanwhile, after his opening lap near miss with Nakagami, Quartararo entered seventh, passing Rins aboard the LCR Honda.
Zarco proved still capable of matching the times set by third-place sitter, Morbidelli, while the Italian struggled to keep up with A. Marquez, who pulled the pin with five laps to go.
Further back down the order and a frantic battle for the eighth position got underway, with Rins slipping down the order after an attack from VR46’s Luca Marini.
3 laps left and Zarco was within touching distance of podium contention. Pushing his Pramac Ducati machine to the limit to get anywhere near enough to mount an attack on third. Morbidelli surrendered his podium position with a mistake, and through went Zarco.
With the penultimate lap underway, Zarco was lapping quicker than any rider in the top 3 and set his focus on picking off A. Marquez for a potential second-place finish.
Final lap time, and Bezzecchi sat up front with a more than comfortable 5.8 second lead. Frenchman Zarco got the jump on A. Marquez to take second place into his own hands and began pulling a gap as they got closer to the chequered flag.
His unmatched late-race pace carried him through the field to take the flag in second, but it was Bezzecchi who claimed a dominant win, having taken the lead at turn 1, lap 1 and never letting it slipMarquez came in second after a hard fought 25 lap race, followed by Morbidelli and Martin. The Australian of Miller fended off pressure from Quartararo fabulously, beating the factory Yamaha rider to sixth with Marini, Rins and Di Giannantonio making up the remainder of the top 10.
Featured image – MotoGP.com