Eassyway – World champ: Bagnaia wins first ever sprint at Portugal MotoGP

World champion Francesco Bagnaia won Saturday’s Portuguese MotoGP sprint ahead of fellow Ducati rider Jorge Martin and Honda’s Marc Marquez.

This was the inaugural sprint in an innovation that will see the riders contest a 12-lap race for half the points awarded for Sunday’s showpiece event.

Marquez, a six-time MotoGP world champion, had surprisingly started from his 64th career pole position ahead of Bagnaia and Martin having struggled in Friday practice where he also crashed out.

“I spent a lot of energy. It was only 12 laps, but we did an extraordinary job today,” said Marquez, whose career has stalled after undergoing four surgeries in recent seasons.

“Tomorrow is the most important race of the weekend, it will be more difficult.”

Despite his reservations, Marquez will still start Sunday’s race from pole position where he will seek his 60th premier class victory but first since the autumn of 2021.

This first sprint race in MotoGP history was marked by a shuddering collision between Italian riders Enea Bastianini of Ducati and Luca Marini of the satellite Ducati-VR46 team.

Bastianini was taken to the medical centre because of pain in his right arm.

The crash came a day after Spanish veteran Pol Espargaro was hospitalised with “severe spinal trauma” after a crash in practice.

The high-speed crash suffered by 31-year-old Espargaro on his KTM Tech3 GASGAS bike caused a long interruption to the session which eventually finished around two hours late.

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