In a heart-stopping moment at the Catalan Grand Prix, MotoGP champion Francesco Bagnaia experienced a harrowing crash during the opening lap.
The Italian rider, who had been dominating the 2023 season, fell off his Ducati bike and had his lower leg run over by another rider.
Bagnaia, a 26-year-old sensation, had been relentlessly defending his 2022 MotoGP championship title after vanquishing the formidable Fabio Quartararo to secure his first-ever title in the series.
Starting from pole position for the Catalan GP, he had displayed remarkable form during qualifying, outperforming Aleix Espargaro, Miguel Oliveira, and Maverick Vinales.
However, Bagnaia’s time in the lead was short-lived, as chaos erupted during the opening lap.
Losing control of his Ducati bike, he was sent tumbling into the path of an oncoming Brad Binder, who tragically ran over Bagnaia’s lower leg as the field sped by.
Despite the horrifying crash, there was a sigh of relief as Bagnaia remained conscious.
However, the Italian rider was clearly in pain as he awaited medical attention.
MotoGP authorities have since confirmed that the 26-year-old is in stable condition, though updates on his situation are eagerly anticipated.
Heading into the Catalan GP, Bagnaia had been dominating the standings, holding a commanding 66-point lead over his closest championship rival, Jorge Martin.
His 2023 campaign had been nothing short of stellar, with five victories and two second-place finishes.
Reflecting on Bagnaia’s unprecedented success in 2023, former world champion Fabio Quartararo praised his fellow rider, stating, “I think he’s a little bit ‘Verstappen’ now.
“I think also like the previous years, he has the best bike, yes – but you can have the best bike and not achieve results.
“It’s a combination.
“And it looks like now the combination [Bagnaia] has with the bike, the confidence he has with the bike – when you are winning, winning, winning, you feel that you are unstoppable.
“And this is the feeling he has now.”
Quartararo further emphasised Bagnaia’s mastery of the bike, saying, “He looks easy on the bike, he knows how to use the bike.
“So right now, I don’t see anyone who can really be faster than him.”