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MotoGP Catalan GP

“Speechless” Espargaro dedicates maiden Aprilia MotoGP 1-2 to Bagnaia

Aleix Espargaro has dedicated his historic victory in the MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix to Francesco Bagnaia, after the Ducati rider was taken to a hospital following a crash.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team

Bagnaia was involved in a horrific incident on the opening lap of the grand prix while leading, after he was flung from his Ducati exiting Turn 2.

The world championship leader then had his leg run over by KTM’s Brad Binder, who could do nothing to avoid him.

Bagnaia, along with team-mate Enea Bastianini – who triggered a pile-up at Turn 1 – was taken to the medical centre, before being transferred to hospital.

Bagnaia is thought to have largely escaped any serious injuries, with the Italian undergoing scans to confirm he has not suffered any fractures to his leg.

Bastianini, meanwhile, is thought to have suffered fractures to his hand.

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Espargaro was left to start effectively from pole for the restarted 23-lap grand prix, which he won from Aprilia team-mate Maverick Vinales to lead the marque’s first ever 1-2.

The Spaniard, who also won Saturday’s sprint, dedicated his victory to Bagnaia, while also explaining that the wind caused him numerous issues with his riding style – forcing him into several mistakes, one of which dropping him 1.3s adrift of Vinales at one stage.

“I’m speechless,” Espargaro said in parc ferme. “First thing I want to say is I’m happy, really, really happy that nothing [serious] happened today on the first start.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“Lucky that Pecco is nothing really serious, they told me now. So, this win is for Pecco because I was just behind, I was very worried.

“Then I tried to reset my mind and for the riding style we do, this win was very difficult because I let the bike flow in the mid-corner and the wind pushed me out.

“Maverick is a lot stronger at stopping the bike and going. It was difficult for me to follow, I made a mistake when I was trying to overtake and then I lost a lot of ground.

“I thought for a moment I wouldn’t catch him, he was very fast. But I changed [engine] map and I went to the limit, like qualifying, for 25 minutes and I’m very happy.”

This victory marked Espargaro’s second grand prix win of the 2023 season after he beat Bagnaia in a last-lap thriller at Silverstone, and is the third of his entire career.

It also comes a year on from his last-lap gaffe at the 2022 Catalan GP, in which he lost a podium because he miscounted how many tours he had left.

Espargaro sported a special helmet design for this weekend, which read “one more lap”, in deference to his 2022 error.

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