The table was set outside Doha on the Lusail track in the Qatar MotoGP on Sunday for a duel between Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin to drive this year’s MotoGP world championship to the top, but then it sent Martin on a misfire.
Where Bagnaia finished second, Martin took a disappointing tenth place and most likely handed the title to Bagnaia on a tray with just one race to go.
Meanwhile, it was again a case of so close, but still too far for South Africa’s Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM).
A podium place beckoned for him for most of the race before he surrendered his third position towards the end after being overtaken by Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati) and Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Factory Team).
Binder finished fifth.
This was also the case in Saturday’s lightning race when Binder finished seventh.
Binder started 11th on Sunday but was blistering and moved up to sixth.
He was third for 15 laps with ingenious chasing, where he remained before losing his position.
The Grand Prix was won by Fabio di Giannantonio (Gresini Ducati), who took his first MotoGP victory.
Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo) was second, Marini third, Viñales fourth, Binder fifth and Alex Marquez (Gresini Ducati) sixth.
Bagnaia, just like Binder, got off to a blistering start and was already ahead in the first turn.
He was followed all the way by Di Giannantonio, who overtook him with only a few laps to go.
Bagnaia extended his lead over Martin to 21 points with his second place.
Martin was just seven points behind Bagnaia in the standings before Sunday’s MotoGP, but had a very poor start and dropped to ninth. He finished tenth.
After Saturday’s seventh place in the sprint and Sunday’s fifth place, Binder clung to his fourth position in the standings and will not be able to be overtaken.
Bagnaia now has 437 points, followed by Martin (416), Marco Bezzecchi (326), Binder (268), Johann Zarco (204) and Aleix Espargaro (198).