Bagnaia Eyes Landmark Argentina Win As MotoGP Laments Fallen Stars

World MotoGP champion Francesco Bagnaia targets a first Ducati win in Argentina on Sunday in a drastically reduced grid stripped of four riders injured in the chaotic season-opener in Portugal.

Bagnaia secured maximum points in the Algarve courtesy of winning both the inaugural sprint race and the showpiece event.

The 26-year-old Italian kept his head while a series of rivals crashed and collided.

His Ducati factory teammate Enea Bastianini is missing from Argentina after suffering a broken shoulder blade.

Spanish veteran Pol Espargaro is facing a lengthy absence due to a bruised lung and fractures to his jaw and spine following a crash in practice.

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Six-time premier class champion Marc Marquez is out after undergoing a fifth surgery in less than three years following his spectacular collision with Aprilia rider Miguel Oliveira.

Marquez, 30, and a three-time winner in Argentina, needed the operation to repair damage to his right hand.

The Spanish star, roundly jeered by the Portuguese crowd in the aftermath of the incident with Oliveira, will also have to serve a double long-lap penalty at his next race in the United States.

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That penalty has, however, been referred to the sport’s court of appeal.

The luckless Oliveira is sidelined due to a leg injury sustained in the accident leaving Sunday’s grid reduced to 18 from 22.

For Bagnaia, Sunday brings a chance to deliver a first win at Termas de Rio Hondo for Ducati.

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The circuit is one of just three at which the Italian team has never triumphed.

There are promising omens — it was in Argentina last year that Aprilia, courtesy of Aleix Espargaro, celebrated their first MotoGP win.

“I am really curious to see what happens as Ducati has never won here,” said Bagnaia on Thursday.

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“We haven’t tested at the track but I am sure we can demonstrate our potential.”

He added: “Last week everything was perfect, and I hope the same will happen here in Argentina.

“In any case, I’m optimistic: my feelings with the bike are incredible, so I’m convinced that I can perform in any conditions.”

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One of those conditions will be wet-weather racing, especially for Friday practice when rain is forecast.

One of Bagnaia’s main challengers is expected to be Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales who won the Argentina Grand Prix on a Yamaha in 2017.

Vinales was second last weekend in…

Read More: Bagnaia Eyes Landmark Argentina Win As MotoGP Laments Fallen Stars 2023-03-30 18:11:16

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