Lecuona on MotoGP™ return: “I’m really happy, I felt more comfortable run by run”

As the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship had a weekend away from the race circuit, Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was in action during the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez in the MotoGP™ World Championship. The Spaniard was deputising for the injured Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda Team, something Lecuona hailed as the team of his childhood dreams ahead of action commencing on Thursday.

With there being no expectations, Lecuona took 18th in his first MotoGP™ Sprint outing on Saturday afternoon after qualifying in 25th. On the opening lap of the Sprint, he had a collision with Augusto Fernandez but managed to stay on the bike. The Sprint was red-flagged after a multiple rider crash at Turn 2 involving Franco Morbidelli, Alex Marquez and Marco Bezzecchi. In Sunday’s Grand Prix, the race was red-flagged for another opening lap crash at Turn 2, this time involving Fabio Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira. Come the end of the race, Lecuona took 16th, less than half a second from scoring points. 

Talking about the weekend, Lecuona said: “I’m really happy with the job, so thanks to the team for all the work they did. We improved every time I jumped on the bike, the feeling, pace and lap time. At the beginning, I was in the grip but after ten laps, I felt the first drop and missed the lap time a bit. I learnt a lot in the race to keep a good lap time and at the end of the race, I recovered a lot to get to Raul Fernandez. I think I needed half a lap to overtake him but to finish three tenths from a point… overall I am really happy!”

“After a year and a half away from this paddock, it’s hard to come back. It was my first time on this Honda, my first time with the new front tyres and my first time with many new things. I am really happy because run by run, I felt more comfortable and better on the bike. I need to be happy.”

Watch all the 2023 season unfold chapter-by-chapter with the comprehensive WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

UP NEXT: Follow the crucial one-day Jerez Test

Simon Crafar and Jack Gorst will be coming to you live from Jerez at 14:00 local time (GMT+2) to run through the action, while Live Timing will be available so you can keep track of every lap that’s thrown in throughout the day. In addition, a midday and end of day report will be posted with the juicy bits of information that surface, as well as highlights and interviews being posted right here on motogp.com.

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

The comeback: Bagnaia topples KTM with the pressure piled on

The plot thickens as the Italian retakes the Championship lead despite Binder refusing to go down easy with Bezzecchi crashing out

Pick a name out of a hat and stick with it as there’s no predicting the action in the 2023  MotoGP™ season. The Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España did not fail to entertain as the Grand Prix remained completely open right until the final corner. A heroic comeback from the World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) saw the number 1 fend off the Tissot Sprint winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who piled on the pressure in a nail-biting final two laps to fall just short of the victory. Despite Bagnaia snapping up a 22-point lead in the Championship, KTM’s dream weekend continued as Binder consolidated solid points to put himself 3rd in the Championship just 25 points away from Bagnaia, with the previous Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) dropping to 2nd after crashing out. To put the icing on the cake for the Austrian manufacturer, Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the Spanish Grand Prix podium having battled hard throughout the race to make it two KTM’s in the top 3 for both the Tissot Sprint and the Grand Prix. 

Three into one doesn’t go…

The pressure was on as you could cut the tension with a knife on the grid after the fierce and feisty Tissot Sprint was the perfect precursor to MotoGP™’s first Grand Prix on its return to Europe. The eyes were on the KTM’s as the lights went out and both the factory bikes took to the front with Miller leading Binder and Martin through turn 1.

In the meantime, Fabio Quarararo’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) nightmare start to the season continued as the Frenchman crashed out of the race at turn 2. The 2021 World Champion hobbled away after competing for the same inch of tarmac with Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) and Marco Bezzecchi, which saw the Portuguese rider join the Yamaha man in the gravel. Quartararo was fit to restart, Oliveira headed to the medical centre and was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder.

RED FLAG: Quartararo and Oliveira crash leads to stoppage

The incident brought out the red flags as the air fence had gone down at turn 2. Whilst the necessary safety precautions were put in place the grid were preparing to reset and go again for the restart. But then there was more drama: Quartararo was given a Long Lap penalty for his part in the crash… something that “astonished” Yamaha and the man himself was also angrily puzzled. 

Surprise surprise, it was the flying KTM’s once again that took to the front with Binder rolling around the outside of Miller to take the lead, and Martin slotting into 3rd before an incredible round-the-outside move at Pedrosa corner came from the World Champion Bagnaia which stunned fans as he made the impossible possible.

Binder, Miller, Bagnaia, Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) was the order the first time across the line. It wasn’t long before the KTMs switched places as Miller took the lead in hopes of making himself the first rider in MotoGP™ history to take three victories with three different manufacturers.

With 21 laps to go the KTMs began to pull away from the Ducatis of Bagnaia and Martin, stretching the gap out to just over half a second. Binder then took the lead back from his teammate, whilst Bagnaia had put the afterburners on to set the fastest lap of the race so far and bridge the gap to the leading duo.

Moto3™ or MotoGP™?

Once on the scene, Bagnaia wasted no time in getting past the Aussie, putting his factory Ducati in the tiniest of gaps at Pedrosa corner to sit up the KTM and making a little contact in the process. He raised his had to apologise, Miller raised his to say pfff. The number 43 was then under attack from Martin as well, but snapped straight back at the final corner. That pushed the Pramac well well wide, but no contact there as he slotted back in just behind Aleix Espargaro into fifth.

One lap later, and more penalty drama. Bagnaia was forced to drop one position after that earlier contact though, and the Italian dropped anchor to let Miller back past. It was a KTM one-two once again, but Martin soon got back past Aleix Espargaro to start bothering Miller again.

Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) then crashed out from behind Martin, joining earlier faller Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) as a DNF. And Bezzecchi was just about to join them, the Italian sliding out at Pedrosa, rider ok but ceding that points lead.

Game on in the championship fight

The lead was now there for the taking for Bagnaia, and back at the front, Binder was now six tenths ahead, but as the final few laps dawned the Ducati was gaining, gaining and gaining. At the final corner with four to go, Pecco pounced to perfection and headed over the line in the lead for the final few laps. Could Binder respond?

At first it seemed like a no, but the number 33 dragged the speed from somewhere. He closed back in, and by the final lap it looked plausible if not likely that Binder would get close enough. By the final sector it looked like one motorcycle in the lead, and the last Lorenzo corner was coming. The stage was set for a lunge, but Bagnaia was having none of it. The reigning Champion was incredibly strong on the brakes and shut the door to perfection, leaving Binder to have a brief look but find no way through. Split by just two tenths over the line, it was fitting it went to the wire after a stunning race.

Miller took third place and that’s now premier class podiums with three different bikes, as well as his first GP rostrum visit with KTM. Martin takes fourth place and was fuming at the Australian for his move, and Aleix Espargaro completed the top five.

Title race drama: Bezzecchi crashes out in Jerez!

Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) took sixth in a close, close finish with KTM wildcard and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). The number 26 was thousandths off but took another top ten after an incredible weekend on his return to competition. Behind them, Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) took eighth ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). One bit of late drama saw Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) lose out on that as a technical problem caused him a last lap DNF.

Champions spirit from the Flying Frenchman

On Quartararo watch, the Frenchman was classified tenth after even more drama. He made progress, did the Long Lap but actually didn’t quite stay in the lines, and then had to do another Long Lap. So the comeback into the top ten was something to write home about. Will we see Yamaha make a statement about the penalty as they did after Assen last season? It seems a story likely to roll on.

With the Championship plot ever-changing in MotoGP™, there’s no telling what the next chapter holds as the paddock moves to the SHARK Grand Prix de France on the 12th – 14th of May. It’s no ordinary race weekend either: it’s the 1000th Grand Prix in history. Home heroes Quartararo and Zarco may have had different ideas of how they’d want to arrive into the weekend, but anything can happen – we’ve already had 10 riders on the GP podium this season and they’re both among them. It’s a date with destiny and history, and you don’t want to miss it!

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team)
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +0.221
3. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +1.119
4. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) +1.942
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) +4.760
6. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +6.329
7. Dani Pedrosa (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +6.371
8. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) +14.952
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) +15.692
10. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) +15.846

VideoPass allows you to watch every single second of every single sector LIVE and OnDemand

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

Flawless Lowes fends off Acosta for victory

The Brit returns to the top step for the first time since 2021 to beat home hero Acosta in Jerez

A flawless performance from polesitter Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) saw the British rider claim a first victory since the 2021 Emilia-Romagna GP at the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España. Lowes fended off home favourite Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as the Spaniard draws level on points at the top of the Championship with a P2, while Alonso Lopez (CAG SpeedUp) completed the podium.

Lowes dominant in Jerez

After getting the holeshot into Turn 1 to get ahead of Lowes, Acosta led the field around most of the first lap until Lowes pounced at the final corner. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) made a lightning start from P10, the Italian was battling Lopez for P3 on the opening lap.

Back-to-back fastest laps of the race saw Lowes pull 0.4s clear of Acosta, who in turn had 1.1s in hand over Lopez. Arbolino was getting beaten up a bit after a good start, the title chaser was embroiled in a battle with Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Filip Salač (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™) and Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40).

With 14 laps to go, Lowes had stretched his lead out to 0.8s. The top two were in a league of their own at this stage, with Lopez 2.2s off Acosta’s rear wheel. With 11 to go, the leader’s gap was up to 1.7s as Lowes got the hammer down, with Acosta still pulling clear of third place Lopez. Ogura was leading the P4 battle with Arbolino tucked right in behind the Japanese star, before Turn 1 on Lap 13 saw Ogura crash after very, very slight contact with Arbolino’s rear wheel.

Lap 16 or 21 passed by as Lowes continued to stretch his advantage out over Acosta. With five laps left, 2.3s was Lowes’ margin for error, with Lopez holding off Arbolino for the final podium spot by just over a second. And heading onto the final lap, 2.9s was the gap. Lowes managed to bring his Triumph Kalex machine home for a pitch-perfect Spanish GP victory, as Acosta claimed P2 on home turf to bring himself level on points at the top of the overall standings. Lopez managed to hold off Arbolino by half a second to grab his second rostrum of the season.

Your points scorers in Spain

Arbolino did well to finish P4 from 10th on the grid, he’s now tied with Acosta at the summit of the Championship table, as Canet picks up a valuable P5 from a P12 grid slot. Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar M2) crossed the line in P6 ahead of Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Salač and Fermin Aldeguer (CAG SpeedUp) in the top 10.

Rookie Sergio Garcia (Pons Wegow Los40) finished a classy P11 ahead of point scorers Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), Barry Baltus (Fieten Olie Racing GP), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Lukas Tulovic (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP).

What a sensational return to victory it was for Lowes. Acosta and Lopez gave the home faithful plenty to cheer about, as Acosta and Arbolino head to Le Mans level on points – game on at the French GP. 

What a sensational return to victory it was for Lowes. Acosta and Lopez gave the home faithful plenty to cheer about, as Acosta and Arbolino head to Le Mans level on points – game on at the French GP. 

Moto2™ recap: Lowes lights up Jerez with classy win!

Top 10:
1. Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team)
2. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 2.841
3. Alonso Lopez (CAG SpeedUp) + 9.618
4. Tony Arbolino (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) + 10.163
5. Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) + 11.056
6. Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Moto2) + 11.923
7. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 12.586
8. Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 14.948
9. Filip Salač (QJMOTO Gresini Racing Moto2™) + 16.470
10. Fermin Aldeguer (CAG SpeedUp) + 18.550

Follow the entire 2023 Season LIVE & VOD with VideoPass!

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

Ortola takes two from two in intense last-lap scrap

Moto3™ returned to Europe in spectacular fashion as the lights went out on the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España, opening Sunday’s billing with incredible last-lap action. Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) meant business as the Spaniard put on an impressive display with incredible racecraft seeing him come out on top of a nine-rider battle for glory at the Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto, putting the MTA man right into Championship contention as he jumps to 3rd in the standings just nine points off Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who regained the top spot. Ortola wasn’t the only one making headlines as David Alonso (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar M3) held his own against the big guns to take his first Grand Prix podium in his rookie season. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) led the way at the end of the race and after being bullied down out of a podium spot, salvaged 3rd place in the final sector.

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

Can Miller be the first rider to win with three factories?

A four-bike battle for victory saw Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and KTM take another incredible Tissot Sprint win at the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España. An action-packed Sprint enticed fans with drama from lights out to the chequered flag with attacks for victory coming from three different manufacturers with an Aprilia, a KTM, and a Ducati on the front row. Find out more in 10 things you need to know.

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

Pure gold: Binder vs Miller vs Bagnaia lights up Jerez!

Miller and Binder were ragged perfection in the lead though, sliding their way around Jerez circuit in a two-man show for a few laps. Binder looked ready to pounce, Miller held him off, the two blasted round in tandem and then the South African tried it once, denied, but twice, absolutely not shy. It looked like a lot to ask as the number 33 machine squirreled and headed in a little deep, but on the exit Binder sealed the deal, back into the lead with a lap and half to go.

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here