After a fantastic qualifying session, it was soon time for the premier class to battle it out for the thrill of becoming the first winner of a sprint race. The outcome wasn’t all that surprising, the Ducatis stretching their legs nicely over the 12 lap sprint, but they did face some competition at least. Poleman Marc Marquez managed to get a good launch off the line, as did Enea Bastianini, the Italian immediately jumping up to second but quickly deposed by teammate Pecco Bagnaia and fellow front row starter Jorge Martin. The Beast’s day soon got a lot worse, as he became the innocent victim in Luca Marini’s crash, the two Ducatis out of proceedings on lap two. Speaking of victims, an overly optimistic move from Joan Mir ran Fabio Quartararo wide and dropped him to the back of the field on the opening lap.
Back at the front, two Bologna bullets shot past the leading Honda as soon as they got the chance on the main straight, Bagnaia picking up the lead ahead of Martin and Marquez, the trio stretching a handful of tenths' advantage over the first couple of laps. Martin attacked the number 1 on lap four and it briefly looked like a done deal, as Bagnaia lost half a second over the next lap, while Marquez dropped back into the clutches of the chasing group including Jack Miller and Miguel Oliveira. The Honda didn’t last long in front of the KTM and Aprilia men and swiftly dropped to 5th by lap five.
However, the leading quintet had come back together by the halfway point of proceedings, with Miller setting the hottest pace of the lot but not exactly lightning fast, allowing the chasing factory Aprilias to gain some ground. Miller attacked for the lead soon after but could not resist the straight line speed of the Ducati machines and handed back top spot to Martin with five laps remaining.
Martin was allowed a bit of breathing room while Bagnaia found a way past Miller, but the world champion did so with three laps remaining and the Ducati duo had stretched a one second gap at the front going into the final lap. Bagnaia eventually made his move at turn five and managed his lead to the chequered flag, becoming the first sprint winner and demoting Martin to second place. In the battle for third, Oliveira’s move on Miller at the first corner allowed Marquez to swoop in and rob both of them with two laps remaining, but holding position was a tough ask for the Honda man. Oliveira started the final lap in third, to the delight of the home crowd, but ran well wide at turn 11 and gifted Marquez the third-place medal.
Miller missed out on the podium by eight hundredths of a second, ahead Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro, the two factory Aprilias busy swapping the same paint in the closing stages. Oliveira’s last lap mistake dropped him all the way down to seventh position but the home favourite had a big gap to the rest of the field. Quartararo managed to recover some ground after his early misfortune and spent the final half of the race battling for eighth place but ended up just outside the point-scoring positions, behind Johann Zarco and Alex Marquez.
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