International motor racing returned for the first time in 13 years at the Buddh International Circuit as VR46 Racing’s Marco Bezzecchi took a commanding win in the inaugural MotoGP Indian Grand Prix here on Sunday.
It was India’s first-ever taste of MotoGP action with a brimming grandstand welcoming the MotoGP riders as Bezzecchi stamped his authority on the race track, winning by a margin of more than eight seconds after starting from pole.
The day started off with the entire track and paddock reverberating with the sounds of the 250cc bikes as Moto3, the third-tier of racing, kicked off the on-track action.
Collective gasps were heard from the crowd as the group of 28 riders braked in unison at the first turn, with the rear end of their bikes chattering as it struggled to deal with the sudden cease of acceleration.
The race was dominated by Jaume Masia from Leopard Racing as he drove a sublime race to win by over a five-second margin.
The main battle though ensued behind him with the Squarda Corse’s Kaito Toba fighting it out with the Husqvarna pair of Ayumu Sasaki and Colin Veijer.
The crowd went into a frenzy after the two teammates collided while going for second place, the first high-profile incident they witnessed on the day. The former two managed to continue after the incident, sealing a podium finish in the process.
The following Moto2 race had even more drama as a slew of riders crashed at the extremely tight turn 1 resulting in a pile-up of bikes with Gresini Moto2’s Jeremy Alcoba stuck under the bike for a brief while before he managed to wriggle out.
This race also saw a foreseen conclusion with KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta running away with the win by a margin of 3.5 seconds.
Bezzecchi’s win in the main event of the day though saw even more jubilation from the crowd as the Italian endeared himself to the fans present by climbing up the ladder of a video camera booth to celebrate his victory.
“I’m very happy. It was a very tough race. Very long,” said the Italian after securing the win. “I got hit by Luca at the race yesterday and today I wanted to get my revenge. I enjoy this country and this track a lot,” he added.
Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin, who grabbed the win at the Sprint Race on Saturday, had to settle for a second-place finish today but was the centre of drama at the race as he overcame multiple obstacles to secure the podium.
Martin initially failed to stop his bike at turn four in the first lap after taking the lead at the start, losing out on two positions in one corner.
The Spaniard recovered well though, lunging into a tiny gap at turn four to get the better of Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia.
The fans and the paddock were at the edge of their seats as the two Championship protagonists almost collided – Bagnaia having to back off to prevent an incident.
Bagnaia then looked to have made it plain sailing for Martin after the Italian lost his rear-end during lap 13, with the bike bouncing around on the gravel trap.
There was no way the 26-year-old could recover the bike from that position, ending his race and springing the Rider’s Championship wide open.
“I am having a lot of problems under braking at the moment. When you are too on the limit, this is something that can happen. It was the only opportunity to fight against them [Bezzecchi and Martin],” the reigning World Champion said.
But that was not the end of the problems for Martin as his efforts to shut his leather suit’s zip – which he had flung open in an attempt to deal with the heat – brought him under threat from Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo.
Martin looked to have dealt with that danger too, but a last lap mistake, where he went wide, unlocked the door wide open for Quartararo to overtake him into turn 5.
But Martin fought through his struggles managing to brake extremely late to go back past the Frenchmen into the next turn and secure an important second place with respect to the Championship fight.
Martin looked very much in tatters after the race, signalling for some water even as he was riding into his pit box at the garage.
Multiple bottles of water were then poured into the back of his neck after which the Spaniard managed to make his way to the podium for the ceremony but decided to give the post-race presentation a skip owing to his condition.
Quartararo sealed third place, his best performance in the entire season, equalling similar finishes in the Circuit of America and at the Assen Sprint race.
Six-time Champion Marc Marquez had a moment too, as he slid on lap 5, almost in slow motion, to the collective dismay of all the fans.
The Repsol Honda rider has been a fan favourite throughout the entire weekend and managed to bring some smiles back as he drove back up from 18th up to ninth to seal a points finish.
Brad Binder of KTM secured a fourth-place finish after a spectacular start saw him jump quite a few riders, adding to a similar finish in the Sprint Race the previous day.
Honda’s Joan Mir, Pramac’s Johann Zarco and Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli also exceeded expectations, getting themselves a good points-haul on the day.
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