Tribune News Network
Fabio Di Giannantonio took his first MotoGP victory at the floodlit Lusail International Circuit on Sunday and in the process denied championship leader Francesco Bagnaia, who survived a late scare to finish second, while his only title rival Jorge Martin struggled home 10th.
Martin on Saturday in the sprint race had cut the gap with Bagnaia to seven points.
Ducati’s Bagnaia now leads Martin by 21 points with just one race remaining in Valencia where the maximum a rider, who wins both the sprint and the main race, can gain is 37 points.
The 26-year-old can secure back-to-back world titles in the sprint at the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix next weekend.
Luca Marini had earned pole position, with Bagnaia and Martin starting fourth and fifth on the grid respectively.
And while Bagnaia had the perfect launch to take the lead from Marini going into turn one, Martin nearly lost control of his Ducati Pramac because of a wheelspin.
He dropped back before struggling throughout with only Di Giannantonio, who came second in Saturday’s sprint, able to keep up with Bagnaia.
As it stands, Di Giannantonio does not have a MotoGP seat next season and the 25-year-old threw caution to the wind at the floodlit circuit in Lusail.
Bagnaia went off the track after his compatriot overtook with four laps to go, but the reigning champion recovered to finish second while Marini of VR46 Racing finished third.
“We managed to do a great start. I was alone in the front. I tried to push but Digi today was incredible,” said Bagnaia.
Bagnaia swept into the lead from the start on his Ducati with only fellow Italian Di Giannantonio able to keep up. Bagnaia went off the track after the Ducati Gresini rider overtook with four laps to go, but recovered to finish second.
“Unluckily, I got sucked by his slipstream on the braking and I went totally wide,” said Bagnaia.
Luca Marini was third on a VR46 Ducati.
Di Giannantonio was delighted by his first win.
“In the middle of the race I was struggling a little bit but I saw he was making little mistakes and I thought ‘hey maybe this is my opportunity,” he said.
Bagnaia said he as pleasantly surprised by the result.
“Honestly, I was expecting (the race) from yesterday would be the same as today,” he said. “We managed to open a lot the gap on Jorge.”
There is one event left this season, at Valencia next weekend, where Bagnaia could wrap up a second title in Saturday’s sprint race.
“Valencia is very important,” said Bagnaia.
Fermin Aldeguer, the 18-year-old Spaniard who is expected to take one of the few available seats in MotoGP next season, won the Moto2 race with compatriot Pedro Acosta, who had already clinched the title, eighth.
Jaume Masia won in Moto3 to take the title but the victory was cloaked in controversy for the way Masia and his Leopard Honda team-mate Adrian Fernandez repeatedly bumped the Husqvarna of his title rival Ayumu Sasaki, who finished sixth.
MOTOGP RESULTS (Top 10)
1. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP) 41:43.6540
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) +2.734
3. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +4.408
4. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing)+4.488
5. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +7.246
6. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP) +7.620
7. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) +7.828
8. Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) +8.239
9. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +11.509
10. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) +14.819.
MOTO 2 (Top 4)
1. Fermin Aldeguer (GT Trevisan SpeedUp) 35:32.1170
2. Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Team) +2.643
3. Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) +2.652
4. Ai Ogura (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) +4.585
MOTO 3 RESULTS (TOP 3)
1. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) 33:50.6940
2. David Alonso (GASGAS Aspar Team) +0.068
3. Deniz Oncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +0.163.