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MotoGP Japanese GP

Bezzecchi’s Motegi MotoGP Turn 1 clash stopped Bagnaia ‘flight’

Marco Bezzecchi says he could not avoid a Turn 1 incident with Maverick Vinales in the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as he threatened to hit Francesco Bagnaia and “fly”.

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

The VR46 Ducati rider launched from fourth on the grid in last Sunday’s flag-to-flag grand prix at Motegi and would ultimately go on to finish there.

However, at the first corner on the opening lap, he was involved in an incident with Aprilia’s Vinales, which squeezed him wide into Pramac’s Johann Zarco.

FEATURE: 10 things we learned from the 2023 MotoGP Japanese GP

Vinales crashed into the gravel while Zarco dropped down the order. Bezzecchi escaped any punishment as the stewards elected not to investigate the incident.

Bezzecchi later apologised for his part in this, but says he was trying to avoid hitting championship leader – and fellow VR46 Academy rider – Bagnaia.

"The warm-up unfortunately we did in somewhat peculiar conditions, I wanted to try something on the bike, but I couldn't figure out anything, so I didn't try anything and in the race, I went back to yesterday's bike,” Bezzecchi said on Sunday at Motegi.

"On the grid, I could see it was dripping, so I knew it was coming to rain.

“The start wasn't bad, but in the first corner it started behind me and I almost grazed Pecco. If I caught him we were going to fly!

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“So, I bounced off someone else, I don't know who it was. I'm sorry, but I couldn't do otherwise.”

With Pramac’s Jorge Martin winning to complete the double at Motegi and Bagnaia scoring a brace of seconds, Bezzecchi’s fraught weekend in Japan has seen him slip 54 points adrift in the championship battle.

While Bezzecchi doesn’t believe his chances are gone yet with six rounds still remaining, he concedes that “objectively” Bagnaia and Martin are protagonists more than he is.

“Title? Definitively out, no,” he added.

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“But right now Jorge and Pecco are more protagonists objectively. I'm a bit further behind. Between the two there is no favourite in my opinion.”

Martin heads into the next round in Indonesia three points adrift of Bagnaia with 222 still up for grabs across the coming sprints and grands prix.

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