Ducati Italian rider Francesco Bagnaia celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the MotoGP race of the Spanish Grand Prix at the Jerez racetrack in Jerez de la Frontera on Sunday. JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA: Italian Francesco Bagnaia ended a barren run by outpacing championship leader Fabio Quartararo to win the Spanish MotoGP at Jerez on Sunday. Spaniards Aleix Espargaro and Marc Marquez took the next two places as Spaniard Alex Rins, who started the race level on points atop the standings, failed to score. Bagnaia won six times last season as he finished second to Quartararo in the championship, but this season had finished no better than fifth. “This is one of the most grateful wins because it comes after a long wait,” he said. At the start he shot away on his factory Ducati and stayed ahead the rest of the way. “The best start I ever did in a race,” he said. “Today we have finally found what we were reaching for.” He said he was still battling shoulder pain but had managed it by limiting his time on track in practice and qualifying. Only Yamaha’s Quartararo could keep pace, but after pressing in the early laps, spent the rest of the race hanging on before finishing just over a quarter of a second behind. “He was too fast today,” said Quartararo. “It was not a battle because we did not overtake, but it was intense and we enjoyed it. It’s good to fight with a rider like him because I’m improving my riding.” The battle, and the overtaking, were several seconds behind as Australian Jack Miller, on another Ducati, tried to hold off the ever-aggressive Marquez, with two more Spaniards, Espargaro, on an Aprilia, lurking. They provided breathless entertainment for a crowd of more than 60,000, the first time spectators have been permitted at the Andalusian circuit since the last pre-Covid race in 2019. Marquez overtook, but later lost control on a corner, only saving himself from another crash by elbowing down on the tarmac, while the Australian misjudged his braking. He pulled away to finish third, almost 11 seconds behind Bagnaia. Quartararo pulled clear at the top of the standings, with Espargaro second. Enea Bastianini, who was eighth on a Gresini-Ducati, moved into a tie with Rins, who was 19th, for third. Bagnaia climbed to fifth, 23 points behind Quartararo. The next race is Quartararo’s home grand prix at Le Mans on May 15.