Bagnaia made a late charge in Saturday’s inaugural sprint contest in Portugal to take the first win on offer in 2023, and backed this up with a measured ride to keep Aprilia’s Vinales at bay for the first grand prix victory of the year.

The factory Ducati rider got pinched off the line from second by poleman Marc Marquez and Pramac’s Jorge Martin.

But when Marquez made contact with Martin and crashed into Miguel Oliveira at Turn 3 on lap three of 25, Bagnaia was released into a lead he would not relinquish despite pressure from Vinales.

Bagnaia ends the opening round of his title defence 12 points clear of the rest after his double victory.

The start of the grand prix was hectic, with RNF Aprilia’s Oliveira briefly snatching the lead from fourth on the grid. The home favourite couldn’t keep the line tight and allowed Pramac’s Martin to take the lead, though Marquez tried to quash this into Turn 3. Marquez forced himself and Martin slightly wide into Turn 3 with his unsuccessful overtaking attempt, allowing Oliveira to swoop back into the lead on the outside of Turn 4.

Through this chaos, Bagnaia emerged in third and quickly moved up to second into the first corner on lap two. Bagnaia made light work of Oliveira at Turn 13 moments later and began to put some daylight between himself and the chasing pack. 

That gap swelled to a second when Marquez misjudged his braking into Turn 3 on the third tour and made contact with Martin, before slamming his Honda into Oliveira.

Both Marquez and Oliveira were taken out in the incident, with the latter needing to be stretchered off track. Scans in the medical centre revealed he had suffered no broken bones.  

Marquez will undergo checks in hospital in Barcelona on a possible fracture to his right hand following his accident.

Vinales, who was promoted to sixth on the grid due to Enea Bastianini’s absence after suffering a shoulder fracture in Saturday’s sprint race, was now Bagnaia’s nearest challenger after the Marquez/Oliveira clash.

Over the fourth tour, Vinales cut Bagnaia’s lead down from a second to just four tenths and kept him honest through to lap 11.

But on lap 12, Bagnaia started to up his pace, opening up a gap of 0.6s, which continued to grow to 1.2s by the end of the 18th tour.

As Bagnaia stage-managed his race, the gap between the pair shrunk by a few tenths at the start of the final lap.

However, it wasn’t enough to derail Bagnaia’s march to the chequered flag and he sealed victory 0.687s clear of Vinales.

Marco Bezzecchi rose from seventh on the grid to complete the podium comfortably on his year-old VR46 Ducati, while Pramac’s Johann Zarco snatched fourth on the final lap after a frantic battle.

He beat Gresini’s Alex Marquez to fourth, with the Spaniard just fending off the attacking KTMs of Brad Binder and Jack Miller.

Fabio Quartararo endured another difficult start to his race and dropped to 15th on the opening lap from 10th on the grid.

The Yamaha rider salvaged eighth after capitalising on a late mistake for Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro.

Alex Rins completed the top 10 as the top Honda rider on his LCR-run RC213V, with former Suzuki team-mate Joan Mir on the factory Honda 11th after serving his long lap penalty for his clash with Quartararo in the sprint.

Tech3 GASGAS rookie Augusto Fernandez took three points on his debut in 13th, with Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli the last classified finisher in 14th.

Martin was dumped to 16th after being involved in the Marquez/Oliveira crash, and had managed to recover to 10th when he crashed out on lap 20.

Two tours later, Luca Marini on the second VR46 Ducati – who inherited 10th from Martin – fell off. Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio and RNF’s Raul Fernandez also failed to finish.



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