Motorcycling-Perfect Martin wins Japanese Grand Prix sprint from pole

MotoGP - Japanese Grand Prix - Sprint race - Mobility Resort Motegi, Motegi, Japan - September 30, 2023 Prima Pramac Racing's Jorge Martin celebrates after winning the sprint race REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Reuters) - Jorge Martin of Pramac Racing put on a masterclass to win Saturday's MotoGP sprint race at the Japanese Grand Prix after starting from pole position, piling the pressure on championship leader and reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia.

Title challenger Martin grabbed his fifth sprint race win of the season hours after he clinched his second pole position of the campaign by setting a lap record of 1:43.198 seconds at the Mobility Resort Motegi.

The 25-year-old Spaniard led from the first corner to the chequered flag and was joined by KTM's Brad Binder and Bagnaia of Ducati on the sprint podium.

Martin has closed the gap with the 26-year-old Bagnaia by eight points in the championship ahead of Sunday's race.

"We were trying to work on the details... I think we found great pace. We are happy that the pace is this fast. Hopefully, tomorrow I can be a bit more calm," Martin said. "Let's go for another victory tomorrow!"

Last year's winner, Jack Miller of KTM, had to settle for a fourth-place finish after a close battle with Bagnaia, who overcame a slow start after dropping to fourth.

Frenchman Johann Zarco finished fifth ahead of VR46 Racing's Marco Bezzecchi, who won the inaugural Indian Grand Prix last week.

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez could only finish seventh, with Fabio Di Giannantonio and Maverick Vinales being the other two riders in the points.

(Reporting by Pearl Josephine Nazare in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)

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