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

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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.

2023 MotoGP schedule announced, highlighted by trips to India and Kazakhstan

2023 MotoGP schedule
Hasan Bratic / Getty Images
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A new opening venue and the addition of two Grands Prix in India and Kazakhstan will highlight the 2023 MotoGP schedule.

The 2023 MotoGP season will kick off March 24th with the opening round in Portugal instead of the typical trip to Qatar. Work on the Losail International Circuit pushed their date back to the penultimate weekend after the series finishes a series of races around the Pacific Rim.

Following Portugal, MotoGP heads to Argentina and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for their only visit to the United States before heading back to Europe for most of the next 10 rounds.

Interrupting the long European stint will be the series’ first visit to the Sokol International Circuit in Kazakhstan on July 7, 2023. The traditional summer break will be three weeks and then MotoGP heads to England for the British GP in August.

After three more European rounds at Austria, Catalunya and San Marino, the second new date on the calendar will come on the 16-turn, Buddh International Circuit for a September 24 race date. Both the India and Kazakhstan races are subject to homologation and approval by the circuit.

The next six races will be held in Asia and Oceania before Qatar and Valencia close out the schedule.

“We’re very proud to announce that Buddh International Circuit will be on the 2023 calendar,” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, which manages the series. “We have a lot of fans in India and we’re excited to be able to bring the sport to them.

“India is also a key market for the motorcycle industry and therefore, by extension, for MotoGP as the pinnacle of the two-wheeled world. We very much look forward to racing at Buddh International Circuit and can’t wait to welcome the fans through the gates to see this incredible sport in person.”

One of two new races announced for 2022, in Finland, did not materialize this season and has not been added to the 2023 MotoGP schedule. In addition, the Aragon GP has been removed to keep the rounds at 21.

2023 Provisional Schedule

Portugal GP, Algarve, March 26
Argentina GP, Termas de Río Hondo, April 2
American GP, Circuit of the Americas, April 16
Spanish GP, Jerez, April 30
French GP, Le Mans, May 14
Italian GP, Mugello, June 11
German GP, Sachsenring, June 18
Dutch GP, Assen, June 25
Kazakhstan GP, Sokol, July 9 *
British GP, Silverstone, August 6
Austrian GP, Red Bull Ring, August 20
Catalan GP, Catalunya, September 3
San Marino GP, Misano, September 10
Indian GP, Buddh, September 24 *
Japanese GP, Motegi, October 1
Indonesia GP, Mandalika Street Circuit, October 15
Australian GP, Philip Island, October 22
Thailand GP, Chang International Circuit, October 29
Malaysian GP, Sepang, November 12
Qatar GP, Losail International Circuit, November 19
Valencia GP, Ricardo Tormo, November 26

* subject to approval