The Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia - Round 18 of the 2023 MotoGPTM World Championship - saw Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) collect his first win of the season. Second and third were the sprint-race winner Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) who still tops the championship order. The performance of Michelin's tires in the Asian heat contributed to new track-lap, race-lap and shortest race-duration records for Sepang.
Bastianini leapt from third on Sunday's grid to take the lead during Lap 1 on medium-compound MICHELIN Power Slicks front and rear, the choice made by all the riders. Once in front, the Italian took advantage of his tires' grip and consistency to pull clear of the field. Not once did he come under threat as he powered his way to his first win of 2023, his first with the factory Ducati team, and his fifth at this level.
In addition to becoming the season's seventh different victor, he completed the 20 laps more than 15 seconds faster than the previous shortest duration for the venue!
Saturday's sprint winner Marquez spent the entire race in second place and crossed the line more than 1.5 seconds after the Italian. He was the only rider to produce a lap under the 1m59s mark, however, when he posted a new race-lap record of 1m58.979s, an improvement of 0.655s over the former reference.
Bagnaia set a new outright lap record for Sepang when he posted a 1m57.491s on his way to qualifying on pole position. The Italian spent much of the grand prix battling for third with Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) before the latter lost ground during the race's second half. The Spaniard ended up fourth, more than six seconds behind his rival for the 2023 title.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Fabio Quartararo was fifth.
Despite the circuit's abrasive surface and track temperatures in excess of 50°C, Michelin rose to the occasion to contribute to the establishment of more MotoGPTM records. In addition to Bagnaia, four other riders bettered the previous track-lap record in qualifying, while no fewer than six riders lapped under the former race-lap benchmark (1m59.634s). Everyone opted for the medium MICHELIN Power Slick front and rear (the softest compound available for the rear) for both the sprint race and the grand prix.
With two races remaining, Bagnaia (412 points) continues to top the provisional standings, 14 points clear of Martin who is now the only other rider still in contention for the crown.
Next round: Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar, Losail (November 17-19).