PARIS — Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin won the sprint race at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix ahead of Ducati’s championship leader Francesco Bagnaia after pole sitter Marco Bezzecchi crashed on the first turn at the Buddh International Circuit.
The sprint was delayed due to wet conditions following a spell of torrential rain earlier in the day but apart from a few damp patches on the track, dry conditions greeted the riders with the sun low on the horizon.
VR46 Racing’s Bezzecchi had not put a foot wrong to claim his third pole of the season but following a poor start, he crashed on the first corner when he was clipped by his team mate Luca Marini.
Martin started second on the grid but he had a perfect launch to take the lead going into the first corner ahead of Bagnaia and the two Hondas of Marc Marquez and Joan Mir, Reuters reported.
Mir had looked good in qualifying but he made a mistake on turn three after three laps and lost his balance, allowing Brad Binder in the Red Bull KTM to move up to fourth and pressure Marquez for the final podium position.
Bezzecchi managed to rejoin the race and the Italian was a man on a mission as he worked his way up the grid, setting multiple fastest laps. But with only 11 laps in the sprint, he ran out of time but still managed to finish a creditable fifth.
With Martin and Bagnaia cruising, the biggest battle on the final laps was Marquez keeping Binder at bay for third place and it was the Spaniard who eventually came out on top for just his second sprint podium of the season.
Elsewhere, Gresini Racing have the opportunity to sign Marc Marquez next season and are waiting for a decision from the six-times MotoGP champion, Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti said.
Marquez has struggled with Honda this season and the Spaniard has finished only three races, his best finish being seventh place at Misano earlier this month.
The 30-year-old said earlier this month that he will come to a decision during the Indian and Japanese Grands Prix.
Announcing a move away from Honda after their home race would deal a huge blow to the Japanese manufacturer, with whom Marquez has raced since 2013.
“As far as Gresini goes, I think it obviously looks like they have this opportunity and they are waiting for Marquez´s decision,” Ciabatti said in an interview with MotoGP at the Indian Grand Prix.
“I see here that Marquez is very fast with the Honda so yeah, we hear what you hear. He will talk to Honda management in Japan and make a decision but it is something up to him and the team.
“We as Ducati have four contracted riders which are the two at Lenovo and Pramac and that’s it.”
Honda have not been able to match the pace of the Ducati bikes used by a number of teams like Gresini and VR 46 Racing, leading to Marquez attempting to ride his bike beyond its limits as he plays catch-up and crashing several times.
Marquez also has the opportunity to join his brother Alex, who has impressed with Gresini and already claimed more than double his points tally from last season after making the switch from LCR Honda.
“I think everybody knows. I think there are no other options left, it’s the only bike without a rider and Marquez says he had three options,” Ciabatti added.