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MotoGP world champion Bagnaia completes perfect Austrian weekend

Ducati’s world champion Francesco Bagnaia dominated the Austrian MotoGP at Spielberg in style on Sunday to take another step towards a second successive title.

Brad Binder (KTM) came in a distant second with Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati-VR46) in third.

For Bagnaia this was a third dream double weekend of the season after winning both Saturday’s sprint and Sunday’s main event.

Maximum points at the Red Bull Ring circuit lifted him 62 points clear of Jorge Martin in the 2023 standings with 10 of the 20 races completed.

“I was expecting a stronger race but conditions were tough for everybody,” beamed Bagnaia.

“We managed everything and demonstrated our potential from yesterday,” added ‘Pecco’.

For Binder it was another runner-up spot 24 hours after his sprint second in front of his Austrian KTM team’s home fans.

“I did everything I could,” said the South African.

“There was a moment when the rear grip said goodbye so I knew I had to be intelligent and bring the bike home and get on the podium twice this weekend.”

Bagnaia set off from pole for the gruelling 28 laps in front of a 94,000 crowd braving blistering heat in the Styrian mountains.

The Italian had the perfect launchpad to gain his fifth race win of 2023 and move a significant step closer to back-to-back world championships.

He sped off the line on his trusty factory Ducati to hold off Binder to turn one as Maverick Vinales, who qualified in second, suffered another poor start as he had done 24 hours earlier in the sprint.

That sluggish getaway thwarted the Aprilia rider’s quest to make MotoGP history by winning a grand prix with three different teams after wins with Suzuki and Yamaha.

Binder went all out for a quick pass on Bagnaia as the front pair drew over a second clear of the chasing pack headed by Jack Miller on the other KTM.

On lap three Martin came in to serve the long lap penalty for irresponsible riding for his role in a seven-rider turn one crash in Saturday’s sprint.

That made his job of trying to harvest some points from 12th on the grid even harder.

Up front Bagnaia continued to fend off Binder, the South African desperately trying to give his Austrian team a win on their home circuit just as he had done in 2021, his last win.

Binder eased off the pressure on Bagnaia, trying to conserve his tyres and bide his time to attack later in the race.

But Bagnaia was controlling affairs perfectly, pulling over one second clear at the halfway point, with the gap widening inexorably as the chequered flag approached.

Nothing was going to stop Bagnaia who crossed the line over five seconds clear.

Martin (Ducati-Pramac) managed to get up to seventh place to at least leave Spielberg with a handful of points.

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