Alex Marquez woke up after a “sleepy” start to hold off a late charge from Marco Bezzecchi and win the British MotoGP sprint race at Silverstone on Saturday.
Maverick Vinales completed the podium as world champion Francesco Bagnaia suffered a rare day off on his factory Ducati finishing down the field.
“It’s great to start the season again with a sprint win,” said Marquez, with MotoGP resuming after its summer break.
“I knew before that today was the day to win the sprint,” added the Ducati-Gresini rider.
“I was a little bit sleepy in the first corner but later on I said I need to push as I was feeling really good.”
Bezzecchi, riding for Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Ducati-satellite team, had battled atrocious conditions to claim pole in a rain-drenched qualifying in the morning.
His runner-up spot moved him up to second in the riders standings, 27 points behind Bagnaia, ahead of Sunday’s main event, the ninth round of the championship.
Bezzecchi had been overtaken at turn two on the opening lap by Jack Miller’s KTM as Bagnaia dropped from fourth to the middle of the field.
Marquez took control at the front on lap two of 10, around half a second clear of Bezzecchi as Miller’s charge fizzled out.
Marquez had doubled his advantage at the half-way stage yet Bezzecchi knuckled down, inching ever closer to set up a tense final lap but Marquez held on for his first win sprint win.
“I kept focussed and was able to finish very close to him (Marquez) so I’m very happy and hoping for a dry day tomorrow,” Bezzecchi said.
Bagnaia was not the only big name to fail to deliver, with six-time world champion Marc Marquez, the winner’s brother, down in 18th and 2021 titleholder Fabio Quartararo beating one home in 21st.
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