Jorge Martin extends his Championship lead as he stormed off over the horizon after post-qualifying penalties for cruising caused a huge grid reshuffle.
It was all change on the grid before the race even began with eight riders being slapped with a 12 place grid penalty, four with back of the gird starts and one very unlucky rider starting from the pits.
Martin rocketed off into the distance as soon as the lights were out and completely dominated throughout. The Spaniard finally took a home victory with almost six seconds separating himself from second place man Marco Bezzecchi. A home victory is something that has been eluding Martin all season after two heart-breaking races on Spanish soil. The Madrid native breathlessly described his race to MotoGP’s Simon Crafer as ‘a long race’ before stating that it was the ‘plan from the beginning’ to create such a large gap to the pack. He then went on to thank his fans and stated he was ‘(moving) onto next races motivated.
Bezzecchi was one of the high profile penalty sufferers as he was forced to drop from fifth position to 18th. The VR46 academy rider made excellent progress early on in the race, making up seven places within the first lap and he continued to climb. 16 laps remaining and Bezzecchi was comfortably within the top 10 in sixth position and, with 14 laps left, he was plotting how to catch Martin. A mistake by the Italian saw him run off onto the paintwork and knocking him back to eighth but he clawed his way back to take second.
Bezzecchi gave a mixed review of his weekend, saying ‘I’m happy but don’t know why they penalised me (in qualifying)…team did an incredible job to give me the bike to try and fight for the win.’ He went on to state he was ‘happy (with the result) thank you to the team and KTM but not happy with the penalty.’
Enea Bastianini was another penalty sufferer. The Leopard Racing rider dropped from the front row in third to 15th. Bastianini fought his way back into the top 10 within two laps before gradually moving his way through to second with 14 laps remaining but he was unable to keep a hold of the position and had to settle for third. The Italian was less than impressed with the result when interviewed in Parc Ferme: ‘Not a lot of happy. Starting from 15th, hard to recover the gap and Martin kept the gap from me. Then (the) battle with Marco, (it was) impossible to overtake (on straight). This position, good for championship.’
Del Conca Gresini rider Fabio DiGiannantonio claimed fouth position after a fierce battle with Marcos Ramirez saw the pair scrapping it out for second for the opening few laps for the race. DiGiannantonio was promoted from 10th to fourth, thanks to the grid penalties and finished the morning in the same position. Ramirez will be very happy with his weekend as he not only confirmed he will be moving to Leopard Racing for 2019 but also brought his KTM machine back in fifth position ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki in sixth position.
Albert Arenas took seventh ahead of Adam Norrodin impressed to bring his Petronas Sprinta Racing bike back in eighth and Jaume Masia in ninth. Masia suffered his second nasty crash of the weekend after falling during the warm-up session. The Spaniard was mistakenly ruled as unfit to race with a shoulder injury before race direction corrected themselves. However, Masia was in visible pain on the grid so a ninth-place finish was exceptional for the young rider.
John McPhee benefited massively from the grid penalties as he was promoted from 23rd to 10th but he was unable to make any headway and finished in the same position. Jakub Kornfeil had a horrible start to the weekend as he took a hefty shunt to his manhood in Friday’s FP2 session and was then slapped with a back of the grid start but the Czech rider made up an incredible 15 places to go from 26th to 11th. Andrea Migno was also handed the same back of the grid penalty for riding slowly in three or more sections but the Italian put in an impressive performance to come back from 27th to 12th.
San Marino GP winner Lorenzo Dalla Porta was unable to maintain his Italian lucky as he was yet rider to receive a 12 place penalty. The Italian gained nine places to finish the race in 13th position ahead of his countryman Nicolo Bulega in 14th. Bulega was pushed back from 14th to 21st for the start of the Aragon GP due to his 12 place penalty but it won’t dampen his spirit as the lanky Italian has confirmed he will be moving up to Moto2 to join Luca Marini at the Sky Racing Team VR46. Vicente Perez secured 15th position ahead of Tony Arbolino in 16th and Raul Fernandez in 17th. Arbolino and Fernandez were both forced down the pack with 12 place grid penalties for their qualifying antics.
Darryn Binder ended the race in 18th ahead of Philipp Oettl in 19th and Alonso Lopez in 20th. Lopez had a shocking weekend on home soil which was made worse by a one place penalty for exceeding track limits. Kazuki Masaki suffered badly from his 12 place grid penalty and was unable to climb any higher than 21st. Stefano Nepa had to settle for 22nd with Jeremy Alcoba in 23rd. Alcoba made little improvement on his ‘back of the grid’ penalty which saw him start from 28th. Nakarin Atiratphuvapat could only manage 24th, five places down from his inherited qualifying position. Rookie rider Dennis Foggia started from the pits after yet another weekend of cruising during qualifying. The Italian was then penalised for exceeding track limits seeing him end the race in 25th ahead of Kaito Toba to finish right at the back of the grid. Toba’s unlucky weekend did not get any better as it went on after an incident with Atiratphuvapat in qualifying saw him barely set a lap and a crash in warm-up did not help him at all.
Three riders failed to see the chequered flag under the Spanish sun but thankfully not in the same spectacular fashion we’ve seen recently. Aron Canet tried to fight through the pain of his Misano crash injury but, after wrenching his shoulder with eight laps remaining, the Spaniard decided to retire instead of fighting a futile battle. Niccolò Antonelli crashed out by himself with three laps remaining whilst Gabriel Rodrigo crashed out with only two laps remaining after an overly optimistic move by the Argentinian saw him make contact with Arenas before tumbling off.
As we prepare for the flyaways, only 13 points separate the title contenders. Can Magical Martin extend his lead any further or will Bezzecchi come back swinging? And will the pack learn from this weekend’s array of penalties and behave themselves?