Gresini Racing’s Fabio Di Giannantonio outpaced world champion Francesco Bagnaia at the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar 2023 on Sunday night to claim his maiden MotoGP victory at the floodlit Lusail International Circuit.
In a gripping battle between the two riders up front, Di Giannantonio, who trailed for the best part of the 22-lap race, overtook the Ducati rider with four laps remaining before claiming a memorable win.
Bagnaia survived a late scare in an attempt to reclaim his lead but he managed to finish runner-up, extending his championship lead to 21 points over title rival Jorge Martin, who had a race to forget after ending up in season-worst 10th place.
Di Giannantonio, who was second in Saturday’s sprint, was paid for his resolve as he kept close pursuit of Bagnaia throughout the race to wrap up a successful campaign in Qatar.
“It’s been an incredible weekend the race was unbelievable. I was struggling with the front (tyre) but I saw Pecco (Bagnaia) making little mistakes. This was revenge, first for myself, and others with me. Now we did it, now I’m a MotoGP winner,” Di Giannantonio, who doesn’t have the ride next season, said yesterday.
Bagnaia went off the track as he tried to fight back soon after conceding his top place handing a massive lead to Di Giannantonio.
“We managed to do a perfect start, I tried to create a gap but Diggia [Di Giannantonio] was incredible. I got sucked into his slipstream at the first braking (zone) and I went wide. But we’ve managed to open a gap on Jorge [Martin],” said Bagnaia, who can now seal his second successive world crown at the sprint in the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix next week.
“Valencia is very important,” he said.
Poleman Luca Marini claimed third place for another podium finish at Lusail after taking third place in the sprint.
After slashing Bagnaia’s lead to seven points with a victory in the sprint, Martin failed to repeat his show in the Grand Prix never recovering from a bad start as he continued to struggle for pace till the end. He blamed ‘bad tyre’ for his disastrous run in the crucial race.
“For sure I wasn’t comfortable. You saw already at the start that I had a big spin and you can understand what happened; the rear tyre wasn’t working okay,” said the Spaniard, hoping to bounce back in Valencia.
“Anything can happen in Valencia. Pecco [Bagnaia] can make a mistake. I can win for sure both races – but I can win if I don’t have a tyre like today. For sure [the title is] not decided yet but it’s not the same arriving in Valencia close, than in this condition just because of a [bad] tyre,” he said.
The rider winning both the sprint and the main race in Valencia will earn 37 points.
Meanwhile, Aprilia Racing’s Maverick Vinales ended up in fourth place followed by Brad Binder and Alex Marquez. Former Qatar MotoGP winners Fabio Quartararo (2021) and Enea Bastianini (2022) were seventh and eight ahead of Jack Miller, who pushed Martin to 10th place.
Earlier, Leopard Honda rider Jaume Masia clinched the 2023 Moto3 world title after recording a thrilling victory at the Lusail International Circuit. GASGAS Aspar Team rider David Alonso was second while Turkiye’s Deniz Oncu secured third position.
Also on Sunday, Fermin Aldeguer overcame an early hiccup to win the Qatar Moto2 Grand Prix – his third successive victory. Manuel Gonzalez outpaced Aron Canet in a photo finish in all Spanish podium.
Japan’s Ai Ogura was fourth with British rider Jake Dixon completing the top five. Pedro Acosta, who sealed the title in Malaysia, last week, finished the race in ninth place.