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Bagnaia wins Italian MotoGP sprint as Martin falls

Francesco Bagnaia at the Italian MotoGP sprint race (Marco BERTORELLO)
Francesco Bagnaia at the Italian MotoGP sprint race (Marco BERTORELLO)

Defending world champion Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati won the Italian MotoGP sprint at Mugello on Saturday, topping the podium ahead of Spanish pair Marc Marquez and Pedro Acosta.

World championship leader Jorge Martin fell and failed to finish this seventh sprint of 20 Moto GP but he still leads Bagnaia by 27 points in the current campaign.

The Italian Franco Morbidelli of Ducati-Pramac took a surprising fourth place, just ahead of the Spaniard Maverick Vinales of Aprilia and the South African Brad Binder of KTM.

The top 10 is completed by the Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio of Ducati-VR46 and the Spanish riders Alex Marquez of Ducati-Gresini, Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia and Raul Fernandez of Aprilia-Trackhouse.

In front of tens of thousands of his adoring tifosi supporters, Bagnaia won this sprint at the track where he emerged victorious in the past two years.

"It's incredible, I really had a lot of fun during each lap. The pace of the bike was very good throughout the race, and to win in front of this fantastic crowd is awesome. I'm in love with this crowd," Bagnaia said after the race.

Ducati's double world champion had topped the times in practice at Mugello but the Turin-born star was penalised three places on the grid for Sunday's full GP after impeding Alex Marquez.

Second-placed former world champion Marc Marquez is back on form since his switch from Honda to Ducati-Gresini.

"The pace of the bike is really good. I had a good place on the grid, fourth, but my start was not very good. The feeling on the bike was very good and I hope to fight again for the podium in the Grand Prix tomorrow," said the Catalan, who is a close third in the overall standings.

Looking at this year's title battle, Martin said ahead of Saturday's sprint he believes it will play out between him, Bagnaia and Marc Marquez.

"The championship still has a long way to go but I think it'll be the three of us fighting for it to the end of the year," said the rider from Madrid.

"Each of us have strong points and areas where we could improve."

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