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Martin wins crash-filled sprint at Spanish MotoGP

Ducati rider Jorge Martin celebrates after winning the Sprint race of the MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Jorge Martin extended his lead in the MotoGP standings as he won the Spanish Grand Prix sprint in Jerez on Saturday after Marc Marquez crashed out while leading late in the race.

Teenaged rookie Pedro Acosta was runner up to take second in the championship race as nine riders failed to finish.  

Former world champion Fabio Quartararo started in 23rd of 25 but so spread out was the crash-shattered field that he managed to cross the line third.

But the Frenchman was later penalised eight seconds and relegated to fifth for low tyre pressure which cost Yamaha their first podium place of the season.

Dani Pedrosa, the 38-year-old Spanish veteran racing as a wild card for KTM moved up to third place, ahead of Italian Franco Morbidelli of Ducati-Pramac in fourth. 

Riders repeatedly described the track, dappled with damp after morning rain, as tricky.

“A difficult race, the track conditions were super hard,” said Martin in his on-track interview.

Marquez, with his first pole since joining Ducati Gresini, and Martin started on the front row, but South African Brad Binder shot off from the second row to grab the lead on his KTM. 

Spaniard Martin, on a Ducati-Pramac, overtook on lap two and pulled away from the chaotic battle behind him as riders kept tumbling. 

Two-time defending champion Francesco Bagnaia went down on lap three. Binder squeezed past on the inside, forcing the Italian into another bike. Bagnaia’s Ducati went flying, out of the race and out of the points. 

Martin built a comfortable lead but Marquez was the fastest bike on the course and closed in. Under pressure, Martin made a mistake on lap seven and Marquez pounced. 

With three laps left Marquez hit a damp patch and slid off. He remounted to finish seventh. 

“I had a good start but then I saw Marquez was coming even though I was pushing a lot, a lot, a lot,” said Martin.

‘Did not matter’

“Marc overtook me because I made a mistake on corner seven. Then I tried to push him and he made a mistake.”

Acosta, who started on the fourth row on his GasGas, came through to take second.

Martin went to 92 points in the standings, 29 clear of Acosta who took over second, four points head of Italian Enea Bastianini of Ducati who did not finish.

Spaniard Maverick Vinales, a double winner in Austin last time, is fourth after he too fell on his Aprilia.

Acosta, who appeared surprised when told he was second overall, said it “did not matter”.

“We know we have the pace, but it was quite tough starting from 10th after the crash in qualifying,” said the 19-year-old.

“With the mixed conditions it was not easy. The wet patches were quite wet and it was easy to lose the rear tyre. It happened that I touched a wet patch and went wide.” 

Quartararo commented: “The track was really tricky. Of course, a lot of crashes in front.” 

Martin said he hoped the track would be easier for Sunday’s main race.

“Tomorrow in dry conditions it will be a different story,” he said. 

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