Bezzecchi wins crash-filled 1000th GP, Bagnaia taken out

MotoGP celebrated its 1000th grand prix event with a chaotic 27-lap race on Sunday at Le Mans, where only 13 riders finished as the likes of Bagnaia, Maverick Vinales and Marc Marquez all crashed out.

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Bezzecchi hit the front on lap 11 after overtaking Jack Miller, and proceeded to dominate by 4.256 seconds to the chequered flag.

A late crash for Marquez while fighting with Pramac’s Jorge Martin dropped him out, with Martin heading team-mate and home hero Johann Zarco.

Standings leader Bagnaia’s race ended on lap five in a collision with Vinales as they debated third place, with Bezzecchi now just one point off the championship lead.

Marquez grabbed the holeshot from second on the grid from KTM’s Miller and VR46’s Luca Marini, with Bagnaia dropping back to fifth behind Martin.

Miller got ahead of Marquez into Turn 8 on lap two to take the lead, though the Honda rider would snatch the position back on the exit.

On lap three, Miller made the move stick on the run into the Dunlop chicane, while Bagnaia moved ahead of Marini to take third just behind.

Marquez kept Miller in close attention, as Vinales on the factory Aprilia found his way up to fourth on Marini on lap five at the Dunlop chicane.

This put Vinales into striking distance of Bagnaia, with the Aprilia rider launching an attack into Turn 11. The Spaniard ran wide and as the Italian cut back to his inside to take Turn 12, the pair collided. This led to Vinales losing control and slamming into Bagnaia, which took both riders out of the race.

Moments later at the Dunlop chicane at the start of lap six, Marini lost the front of his Ducati on the exit of the corner battling Bezzecchi, with Alex Marquez on the Gresini Ducati getting caught unsighted and crashing into him. Marini was taken to the medical centre for checks as Marquez walked away unscathed.

On lap eight, Bezzecchi forced Marc Marquez off track at Turn 8 as they battled for second, which allowed Martin – who ran wide on the opening lap and dropped to eighth – to move into third.

Bezzecchi was forced to drop one position for this, ceding second to Martin on lap nine into Turn 11, before retaking the place on the next tour.

Bezzecchi then passed Miller for the lead on lap 11 and instantly put six tenths between himself and the rest as Marquez moved up to second on the same tour, having dispatched Martin on lap 10.

Martin demoted Miller for third on lap 13 and set about chasing Marquez as Bezzecchi’s lead swelled above a second.

Bezzecchi was 3.1s clear come the end of lap 21, with Martin engaging with Marquez over second on lap 22.

Marquez repelled these attacks, but on the penultimate tour the Honda rider had a wobble braking for Turn 7 and crashed out.

This gifted Martin second, while it promoted Zarco to third for his third career home podium in MotoGP as Bezzecchi cruised to his second grand prix victory of the year.

Tech3 GASGAS rookie Augusto Fernandez converted his best starting position of 12th to finish a career-best fourth, with Aleix Espargaro fifth on the sole-remaining factory Aprilia.

Brad Binder was sixth having had to serve a long lap penalty for cutting the track at Turn 9/10, the South African the only factory KTM rider to take the chequered flag as Miller crashed on lap 25 having slumped to sixth.

Fabio Quartararo concluded his wretched weekend seventh for Yamaha ahead of Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio, LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli.

Danilo Petrucci was 11th on his one-off MotoGP return for Ducati replacing the injured Enea Bastianini, with fellow stand-ins Lorenzo Savadori (RNF) and Jonas Folger (Tech3) the last finishers down to 13th.

Honda duo Joan Mir and Alex Rins (LCR) crashed out of the race in separate incidents.

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2023 French Grand Prix

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