Indian MotoGP Saturday round-up – MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3: wet, fast and furious
The Indian Oil Grand Prix of India delivered an action-packed day of motorcycle racing at the Buddh International Circuit, with intense battles in qualifying in Moto2, Moto3, and the MotoGP class in the Tissot Sprint race. Jake Dixon of the Inde GASGAS Aspar Team took the pole in a closely contested Moto2 qualifying, while Jaume Masia of Leopard Racing demonstrated exceptional skills to take the pole in a very wet Moto3 qualifying. Notably, Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing created history by winning India's first Tissot Sprint race. Race distances, however, were adjusted in response to feedback from riders and tyre suppliers about the scorching temperatures during the Indian Grand Prix. The MotoGP Sprint, Moto2, and Moto3 races have been reduced by one lap, and the MotoGP Grand Prix has been reduced by three laps, setting the stage for an action-packed Sunday with intense competition on the track.
Jake Dixon tops the Moto2 qualifying standings
Jake Dixon of the Inde GASGAS Aspar Team won Moto2 qualifying by a narrow margin in a wet-weather battle at the Buddh International Circuit. Dixon outpaced Pedro Acosta of Red Bull KTM Ajo in a thrilling exchange of fast laps, clocking a time of 2:01.924. Acosta, the championship leader, had to settle for a close second place after his time was only 0.032 seconds off the pole.
Sergio Garcia of the Pons Wegow Los40 team also performed admirably, setting competitive sector times after advancing from Q1. His strong performance in the previous session earned the Spanish rookie his first Moto2 front-row start, and will start from third place on the grid in tomorrow’s race.
Another rider who advanced through Q1 was Zonta van den Goorbergh of Fieten Olie Racing GP, who claimed the fourth position on the Indian Grand Prix front row. Darryn Binder of Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP was fifth, and Alonso Lopez of GT Trevisan SpeedUp was sixth.
Tony Arbolino of Elf MarcVDS Racing Team was unable to replicate his wet-weather prowess and finished seventh, a second off the pace. Joe Roberts of Italtrans Racing Team and Somkiat Chantra of IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia will share row three with him. Celestino Vietti of Fantic Racing completed the top ten in qualifying.
In a wet Moto3 qualifying, Jaume Masia takes the pole position
Torrential rain caused delays ahead of Moto3 Q2 at the Indian Oil Grand Prix of India on Saturday. Despite the challenging weather conditions, Leopard Racing's Jaume Masia demonstrated exceptional prowess at the Buddh International Circuit. The Spanish rider dominated the session, mastering the wet track to record the fastest lap of the session on his final tour, clocking in at 2:09.336.
Matteo Bertelle of the Rivacold Snipers Team finished second, trailing the polesitter by 0.727 seconds. Ayumu Sasaki of the Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP took a well-deserved front-row spot.
However, it was a difficult day for Daniel Holgado, the championship leader from Red Bull KTM Tech3, who did not make it past Q1. As a result, he will start the Grand Prix of India in 19th place.
On the second row, Scott Ogden of VisionTrack Racing took the lead with an impressive performance. Kaito Toba of SIC58 Squadra Corse and Diogo Moreira of MT Helmets - MSI finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Stefano Nepa of the Angeluss MTA Team finished seventh after a commendable wet-weather performance.
In the third row, Taiyo Furusato of Honda Team Asia and Collin Veijer of Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP were eighth and ninth, respectively, with David Salvador of CIP Green Power rounding out the top ten.
Jorge Martin wins the first Indian MotoGP sprint
On Saturday, Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing won the first-ever Tissot Sprint race held on Indian soil at the Indian Oil Grand Prix of India. Martin's third consecutive victory included two sprints and one grand prix. Despite his dominant performance, Martin faced stiff competition from Francesco Bagnaia of the Ducati Lenovo Team, who came in second after a difficult Friday.
Marc Marquez of the Repsol Honda Team triumphantly returned to the Sprint race podium in third place, holding off Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, who finished fourth.
Jorge Martin got the race off to a flying start, grabbing the holeshot and confidently leading the pack. However, drama ensued for Marco Bezzecchi of Mooney VR46 Racing Team, who encountered difficulties, lost significant time, and dropped the order as a result of contact with Luca Marini of Mooney VR46 Racing Team at Turn 1. This incident resulted in Bezzecchi's unfortunate accident.
Nonetheless, Bezzecchi made an impressive comeback, gradually working his way up the field. With six laps to go, the Italian had already secured a top-ten spot and eventually overtook Fabio Quartararo of Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP to finish fifth. On the final lap, Bezzecchi also set the fastest lap of the race, demonstrating an impressive pace that will undoubtedly draw attention to Sunday's race.
Fabio Quartararo also performed well in the Indian Sprint, finishing only 4.327 seconds behind the winner and within 2 seconds of the top three, securing sixth place.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jack Miller advanced through the ranks to seventh place, ahead of Aprilia Racing's Maverick Viales in eighth. Raul Fernandez of the CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team finished ninth to earn the final point.
Unfortunately, due to a collarbone fracture sustained in the Turn 1 crash, Luca Marini was deemed unfit to continue. Marini will also have to serve a Long Lap penalty upon his return.
In the 2023 MotoGP season, Francesco Bagnaia of the Ducati Lenovo Team leads the championship standings with an impressive 292 points. Following closely in second place is Jorge Martin from Prima Pramac Racing, accumulating 259 points. Marco Bezzecchi, representing the Mooney VR46 Racing Team, secures the third position with a total of 223 points. Brad Binder of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing holds the fourth spot, amassing 179 points, while Aleix Espargaro, riding for Aprilia Racing, sits comfortably in fifth place with 160 points. Johann Zarco, also part of Prima Pramac Racing, occupies the sixth position with 147 points. Luca Marini, teammate to Bezzecchi, has earned 135 points, securing the seventh spot. Maverick Viñales, a member of Aprilia Racing, follows closely in eighth place with 130 points. Alex Marquez, representing Gresini Racing MotoGP, holds the ninth position with 108 points. Rounding out the top ten is Jack Miller from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, accumulating a total of 107 points in this MotoGP season.
Indian MotoGP schedule for Sunday
The excitement surrounding the Indian MotoGP will peak on Sunday, September 24. Riders will take the stage after a brief warm-up session and the much-anticipated Rider Fan Parade. The day is organised around three races, with the main race beginning at 15:30 and ending at 16:20. The final event, ‘After the Flag,’ begins at 16:40 and serves as the gala's grand finale. This event will most likely include a race summary, a celebratory lap of honour, or an awards ceremony to recognise the exceptional athleticism displayed on the race track.
11:10-11:20 – MotoGP warm-up
11:30-12:05 – MotoGP Rider Fan Parade
12:30-13:05 – Moto3 Race (16 laps)
13:45-14:25 – Moto2 Race (18 laps)
15:30-16:20 – MotoGP Race (20 laps)
16:40-17:15 – MotoGP ‘After the Flag’
17:15-17:45 – Race press conference
(All times are in Indian Standard Time)