Turn 1 turned out to be the biggest challenge for the riders in the Sprint Race that took place on a wet track after an hour-long drizzle hit the Buddh International Circuit and forced the bikers to go into a special 15-minute wet practice following runs on dry asphalt in the qualifying and practice sessions in the first half of Saturday.
Italian Marco Bezzecchi of Mooney VR46 Racing Team was surely not that pleased, for he started in pole position after topping the Qualifying 2, but had to end in fifth place in the Sprint Race of the MotoGP IndianOil Grand Prix of India.
“The result wasn’t what I was looking for. If I am not safe in first row, [then] where am I safe? It is a shame. I am sure no one wants to make a mistake,” said Bezzecchi who was hit by his Mooney V46 teammate Luca Marini. Marini could not complete the race.
Asked about Sunday’s big race-day, where he will start top of the grid, all alone, with packs of three behind him, he said almost unenthusiastically, “I have to pass the first corner for one race at least. It is three times that I got crashed by someone else so I will try to pass the first corner, then we will see.”
The star of the day, in the Sprint Race, which has 11 laps, half the number of the big race on Sunday, was Spain’s Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac Racing. Having finished second behind Bezecchi, he cruised to first position and got the 12 points reserved for the winner.
Martin is second in the World Championship standings with 259 points just behind Italy’s Francesco Bagnaia of the Ducati Lenovo team, who finished second in the sprint to move to 292 points in the championship.
“Following Jorge is too much. He is saving the best in braking. Because of the rear I am not able to brake as late as Martin which is why he has an advantage,” said Bagnaia after the race. He got nine points while Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda, who was third, walked away with seven points. Brad Binder, Bezecchi, Fabio Quartararo, Jack Miller, Maverick Vinales and Raul Fernandez were also among the points.
Raul Fernandez was another rider unhappy with the tight corners of the track that has been converted into one for motorbike racing from being solely for Formula One.
“Some of the corners are tight and they can be improved,” he responded to a question by Patriot after the race.
Stefan Bradl was one of the three besides Marini and Spaniard Pol Espargaro pf GASGAS Factory Racing, who couldn’t finish the first lap. He hit Espargaro after Augusto Fernandez had braked before the first turn.
“Initially I thought that it was mistake as I took off a few riders but later on after watching, I realised it was not my mistake. Was keeping my line straight. We saw two separate crashes, the other one with Marini and Bezecchi. You could have kind of expected it. The first corner is super tight and [it is] quite short [time] to go there. When I saw the replay, I saw how he braked super hard. I am a bit sore but okay,” he added.
The Sprint Race winner Martin said that the lower temperature caused by the rain was good.
“The moments before the race were difficult. Everything went well as I had a great start which was part of my plan. I was impressed at the end of first lap, had a gap of half a second. I tried to push more, and increase the gap. The condition of the track was good. With less temperature it was nice to ride. I am happy to be the first man to win in India. Improved a bit more on corners than yesterday morning,” he said before adding that while he is strong on Turn 3 & 4, he is struggling to be faster than others on Turn 1.
Augusto Fernandez, who came 11th, said that the wet track made things difficult.
Marquez out of Sunday’s race
Earlier in the day, Spain’s Alex Marquez of Gresini Racing was declared unfit and will not be available for Sunday’s race after three of his ribs were broken in a crash at the end of Qualifying 1 on Saturday morning. He was the second fastest during the Qualifying 1 and by virtue of that he had qualified for the Qualifying 2.
But he crashed during a lap in Qualifying 1 and couldn’t compete in the Qualifying 2. He may have to miss next week’s race in Japan too.
In Moto3, Spain’s Jaume Masia of Leopard Racing qualified first on the grid. He was followed by Italy’s Matteo Bertelle of Rivacold Snipers Team and Japan’s Ayumu Sasaki Liqui of Moly Husqvarna Intact GP.
In Moto2, Briton Jake Dixon of GASGAS Aspar Team finished top in Qualifying 2 followed by Spaniards Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Sergio Garcia (Pons Wegow Los40).
Grid for Sunday’s race (Top 10): Marco Bezzecchi, Jorge Martin, Francesco Bagnaia, Luca Marini, Joan Mir, Marc Marquez, Johann Zarco, Fabio Qaurtararo, Maverick Vinales, Aleix Espargaro.