Motorcycling-Bagnaia wins Italian GP sprint, Binder breaks MotoGP speed record

FILE PHOTO: MotoGP - Italian Grand Prix - Mugello Circuit, Scarperia e San Piero, Italy - May 29, 2022 Ducati Lenovo's Francesco Bagnaia celebrates with a trophy on the podium after winning the race REUTERS/Ciro De Luca/File Photo

(Reuters) -Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia extended his lead at the top of the world championship by winning the sprint race at the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday as his closest contender Marco Bezzecchi finished second.

Bagnaia's sprint victory in his home race moved him up to 106 points with VR46 Racing's Bezzecchi four points behind ahead of Sunday's race.

It was Bagnaia's third sprint win of the season and he has made the podium in five of the six sprints.

Rain threatened to wreak havoc early on but the sun peeked out from behind the dark clouds at Mugello, although the riders still had to deal with wind and drizzle on sections of the track.

"It was a bit scary in the end with rain in sector two and three," Bagnaia said.

"I just tried to not leave any chance for him (Bezzecchi) to overtake. I really enjoyed today."

Gresini Ducati's Alex Marquez started on the front row but his race lasted only a few seconds until Brad Binder nudged him on turn one, causing the Spaniard to crash.

Binder received a long-lap penalty and finished outside the top 10 but the South African did become the fastest Grand Prix rider ever after clocking 366.1 kph.

Alex's brother Marc Marquez started well to stay behind Bagnaia but he was soon overtaken by both the Pramac Ducatis and the two VR46 Racing riders, dropping down to seventh when Jack Miller also got past him on the Red Bull KTM.

Bezzecchi made his move to get past the Pramac Ducatis and up to second behind Bagnaia who held on for the win to the delight of the Italian fans.

Jorge Martin edged Pramac team mate Johan Zarco in an intense battle for third. Martin moved up to third in the championship standings (87 points).

"It was a fantastic sprint. I had pace but I wasn't fast enough in qualifying," said Bezzecchi, who was only seventh-fastest in qualifying.

"I'm confident for the race. Very happy with today and we will concentrate on tomorrow."

LCR Honda rider Alex Rins, who won the Grand Prix of the Americas in April, also crashed and was taken to a hospital in Florence where it was confirmed he had broken his right leg.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond)

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