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Aleix Espargaro inherited an unlikely victory in the Catalan MotoGP Sprint as Francesco Bagnaia made an unforced error on the last lap from the lead.

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Marc Marquez recovered from a disappointing 14th place on the grid to take second, with the birthday rookie Pedro Acosta rounding out the podium spots.

Bagnaia and Acosta’s rapid start put the pair ahead into Turn 1 before the Tech3 GasGas KTM rider made an audacious move on the reigning double champion on Lap 2. Alex Marquez made a costly mistake on the opening lap to put himself in last, while his brother Marquez rose six places to put himself in eighth. Bagnaia and Acosta meanwhile, exchanged places multiple times in the opening laps, before an opportunistic move from Trackhouse Racing’s Raul Fernandez on the reigning champion elevated the satellite Aprilia rider into contention.

Brad Binder followed suit to push Bagnaia back to fourth before Fernandez made an incredibly ambitious move on Acosta to lead proceedings on his satellite Trackhouse Aprilia. While Fernadez established a lead, he carried slightly too much speed into Turn 10 on Lap 5 which saw a fast crash put him out of contention altogether. Binder overtook Acosta and established a half-second lead before crashing at Turn 5 to add more misery to his weekend.

Bagnaia pulled off an aggressive move in Turn 3 and caught Acosta off guard to take the lead once more, as Espargaro followed through later that same lap.

Alex Marquez ran into the side of Johann Zarco on Lap 8 in the final sector, which put the LCR Honda rider out of the race in his third crash of the day. Miguel Oliveira added further disappointment for Trackhouse despite a promising qualifying as he lost the front of his Aprilia, resulting in a double DNF for the American team.

Marquez battled Acosta hard into Turn 1 on the final lap to go third, but Acosta’s contention for a podium was given a lifeline as Bagnaia lost control of his Ducati in Turn 5 which put him out of the race.

Espargaro’s shaky start proved meaningless as he crossed the line to win the Sprint, with Marquez and Acosta completing the podium. Championship leader Jorge Martin was one warning away from a punishing long-lap penalty, but settled for a respectable fourth.

Enea Bastianini and Fabio Di Giannantonio were able to finish close behind, with Jack Miller slotting his KTM bike to seventh. Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales was able to gain four places from his qualifying position to finish eighth, while Marco Bezzecchi rose up the ranks to finish ninth. Fabio Quartararo finished ahead of his former team-mate Franco Morbidelli as Alex Rins was able to recover from the back end of the grid to finish in 12th.

Takaaki Nakagami finished as the highest Honda in 13th, with Alex Marquez failing to make amends from his mistakes earlier on in the Sprint to finish 14th. Joan Mir and Luca Marini followed the Gresini rider for another disappointing outing, with Augusto Fernandez not being able to extract the maximum out of his GasGas KTM in a disappointing 17th. Stefan Bradl ended proceedings in 18th as the last classified rider.