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Published on: Oct. 8, 2023, 2:15 p.m.
Speed demons: MotoGP comes home
  • Honda riders in action

By S.M. Boothem

After a long wait, MotoGP has finally arrived here in India and the event took place at the Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida. The Indian Oil Grand Prix of India – MotoGP Bharat 2023 sponsored by a leading oil and gas company successfully concluded on 24 September 2023. This sponsorship underlines Indian Oil’s commitment to supporting and promoting sporting events that showcase India’s excellence on a global stage. It was a delight to watch the international riders in action, cheered by motorsports enthusiasts. The success of MotoGP Bharat 2023 showcases India’s increasing prominence in the global sports arena.

This event has captured the attention of motorsport enthusiasts nationwide, as it hosted the world’s top motorcycle racers who demonstrated their exceptional skills. MotoGP, the premier motorcycle racing championship globally, has a massive fan following, reaching hundreds of millions of fans worldwide.

This year a new format with Sprint races was introduced, a first in its history, making the 2023 Indian Round a momentous occasion. MotoGP is the second most-watched motorsport event in the world with a global reach of 450 million households and is broadcast live in 200 countries.  

The final rounds of MotoGP Bharat 2023 created an electrifying atmosphere, with the event kicking off with warm-up sessions and a Rider Fan Parade. Bollywood actor John Abraham added to the excitement as he revved up his Ducati and took to the track, leaving fans craving for more action.

The racing featured Moto3 with 16 laps, followed by Moto2 with 18 laps, and culminated in the prestigious MotoGP category with 21 laps. Marco Bezzecchi from the Mooney VR46 Ducati (GP22) team secured the inaugural MotoGP championship finishing in 36m 59.157 seconds. Martin grabbed second spot in the last lap cliff-hanger while championship leader, Francesco Bagnaia crashes out with eight laps remaining; Quartararo settled for third place.

Action-packed race

When the race began, Jorge Martin of Prima Pramac raced off into the lead at the cautious turn 1. Bagnaia, the championship leader, also leaving Bezzecchi in third place. Bezzecchi, however, regained his top spot. First, overtaking Bagnaia to claim second place and then racing in to take the lead.

Thereafter, Bezzecchi left the pack way behind to fight for the remaining two places on the podium. Bezzecchi was completely unaware of the drama that unfolded behind him. He eventually took the chequered flag 8 seconds before the pack.

Talking about his riding experience in India, the track, and the cheerful crowds, Bezzecchi said: “I really liked this place the day I landed. I like to celebrate with the fans, I would like to give my heart to the fans. In this part of the world, they are very loud, and I really like to hear the crowd. They enjoyed it, of course and next year they will have even more fun. So, for me it was fantastic.” He was impressed with the track that gave him his second win of the season.

“It’s a track that I liked the first time I rode on it. Overall, it has been good for me. There was some hard braking, but also some fast parts and chicanes. Physically, I felt better with the head, so change of direction was not a problem, like it was in Mizano. Sector three was really fantastic to ride,” added the champion.

  • IOCL chairman Vaidya with Acosta

The fight for the second place was filled with drama, action, tragedy, suspense and then ended with a nail-biting climax. It started first between Bagnaia and Martin. The battle between the two lasted for about 13 laps before Bagnaia, leading over Martin in the second spot, crashed out at Turn 4. Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo suddenly moved to third place giving him hope for a better podium finish.

The two riders were engaged in a nail-biting duel in the final lap when Martin once again rode wide at turn 4, putting Quartararo into the second spot for a moment before Martin snatched his position back two corners later. Martin, looking tired and distressed ended the race on the second step of the podium.

KTM’s Brad Binder finished fourth and Repsol Hondo’s Joan Mir fifth. Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez who was gunning behind Bagnaia and Martin in fourth, before he ran wide, finished ninth.

Moto2 race

A multi-rider pile-up on Turn 1 led to the restart of the 12-lap Moto2 race after it was red-flagged. That, however, did not stop Pedro Acosta from claiming the title and extending his championship lead. Acosta sprinted to an early lead, maintaining a roughly 3.5-second advantage throughout the race, securing his top spot on the podium. Riding for Marc VDS, his closest competitor, Tony Arbolino, claimed the second position.

A fierce battle for third place unfolded between American Joe Roberts of Italtrans Racing and Sergio Garcia of Pons Wegow. However, Garcia ran wide in the chicane on the penultimate corner during the final lap, allowing Roberts to seize the third spot.

In the Moto3 category, Jaume Masia of Leopard Honda dominated the race, securing the title without any serious challenge from the pursuing pack. Ayumu Sasaki of Intact GP Husqvarna held onto his second position for most of the race but was overtaken by Kaito Toba of SIC58 Honda in the closing stages, forcing Sasaki to settle for third place.

Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh and biker John Abraham graced the event, adding to the excitement. Cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Shikhar Dhawan also attended, enhancing the event’s appeal. John Abraham had the honour of waving the chequered flag for the Moto2 Race, marking the climax of the intense competition and showcasing his passion for motorsports. Ranveer Singh, Ducati India’s brand ambassador, engaged with the audience, contributing to the event’s spectacle.

Expressing his gratitude for bringing world-class MotoGP to Indian tracks, John Abraham thanked the Indian Oil Grand Prix of India and praised the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, for his support. Abraham shared his vision of starting an academy, encouraging parents to allow their children to pursue track riding. He expressed his ambition to see an Indian star in MotoGP, emphasising the potential for Indian talent in the sport.

  • The winners: Martin, Bezzecchi (MotoGP champion) and Quartararo

The Indian Oil Grand Prix of India has made a significant impact on Indian motorsports, thanks to the unwavering support of enthusiasts, celebrities, and partners. Amit Sandill, Director Racing at Fairstreet Sports, highlighted the event’s groundbreaking developments, emphasising the speed and excitement brought to the Buddh International Circuit by MotoGP Bharat.

Featuring renowned riders like Francesco Bagnaia, Marc Marquez, Marco Bezzecchi, Brad Binder, and Jack Miller, MotoGP Bharat showcased exceptional riding skills, captivating Indian motorsports enthusiasts and motorcycle riders at the Buddh Circuit.

With the successful conclusion of MotoGP Bharat, organisers pledged to make the event a regular affair. Additionally, this event’s success opens doors for the potential return of Formula 1 races to India.

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