Who predicted that?! Miller rolls out a new lap record to head the first Friday charge to Q2
The riders heading straight to Q2 are decided as Miller sets a new lap record, Bagnaia starts strong and Marquez loses a cat and mouse with Quartararo
Friday, 24 March 2023
Another two tenths have come off the fastest ever lap of the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, courtesy of none other than Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). “Thriller” lived up to his name to come out on top, defeating Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) by less than half a tenth. Third goes to the previous record holder at Portimao, reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), as rollercoaster Day 1 sets the new era in motion.
Light rain in the opening stages of the session saw the majority of the grid watch the opening laps from the pitlane, but with about half an hour to go, the rain cleared and it was go time. A flurry of fast laps in the closing stages of the session decided the order, and an incredible lap came in from Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) to secure top spot.
Meanwhile Repsol Honda – aka Marc Marquez and Joan Mir – did some formation flying, and by the end of the session Mir secured second with some solid early signs. The Mooney VR46 Racing Team duo of Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi also pushed hard in the morning, taking third and fourth.
The top Aprilia was Viñales in sixth, ahead of Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), who led the session up until the closing stages. Key title contenders Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Bagnaia had a relatively quiet session and finished P1 locked together in eighth and ninth, with Marc Marquez forced to settle for P10.
It was a stop start afternoon session with a first Red Flag due to systems issue at the track, but as the clock ran down the times continued to tumble. Martin set a mid-session banker, the first rider to get below the previous race weekend record, and with the pace set, the rest of the grid chased down the Spaniard’s lap time. The riders were pushing hard, including the 2022 Champion Bagnaia, who also had a high-speed moment, saving it heroically on his elbow as he hurtled through the fast-flowing final corner.
With 15 minutes to go, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) went top, before a second Red Flag caused another stoppage due to a crash for Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3). The Spaniard was taken to Faro hospital for further examination and more details can be found here.
P. Espargaro undergoing further medical examination at Faro
The Spaniard is “conscious, alert, and responding well”, with further examination underway.
Pol Espargaro suffered a big crash in Friday’s Practice 2 of the Grande Prémio TISSOT de Portugal, with the session red-flagged and the Spaniard taken to Faro hospital for further examination.
MotoGP Medical Director Dr. Angel Charte offered a first update on Espargaro’s condition:
“Pol is conscious and talking” – Poncharal 24/03/2023
While unable to go into too much detail, the GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 Team Owner offered some positive news on his rider
“Pol Espargaró has had a high-intensity crash and suffered multiple traumas. To determine the extent, he will need to be evaluated via further examination at Faro hospital, specifically his spine,” Dr. Charte explained.
Espargaro did not lose consciousness at any point and is perfectly fine neurologically, with no neck injuries.
Dr. Charte continued to explain that “his oxygen levels are good, but he has quite a significant lung contusion, the extent of which we will need to confirm with CT scans and MRIs at Faro hospital.”
“He has suffered severe spinal trauma and a contusion to his lungs which we will have to monitor closely. Although I think he will recover well, we need to conduct the appropriate tests to determine the extent of his injuries
“He is conscious, alert, and responding well. He is slightly sedated due to the painkillers we have administered. He can move his feet, legs, and arms perfectly well, so there is no reason to fear any permanent spinal injury.”
Once the session was back underway, soft tyres were thrown in and another flurry of fast laps followed, as the riders competed to get into that all-important top 10 for a secure spot in Q2. With eight minutes to go, Pecco took his number-1-plated Ducati to the top with an incredible 1:37.856, but that was all she wrote for the Italian following his stellar lap as he swiftly retired from the session with an issue. That left a target, and the timing screens began to light up with just two minutes remaining. Two riders bettered Bagnaia by the flag: Miller and Viñales, who both flew into the 1:37 club to put themselves in prime positions heading into Saturday.
That left Bagnaia third ahead of Marini who bounced back into fourth, with Martin forced to settle for fifth. Quartararo takes sixth on Day 1… and had some company from Marc Marquez in the afternoon. Reminiscent of a few moments in recent seasons, the number 93 was locked onto the number 20 for a little while, and got caught out. Marquez went down at Turn 3 and lost his chance to improve further, finding himself out of Q1 but rider perfectly ok.
Behind Quartararo in sixth then comes not Marquez but Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), with Bezzecchi next up. Aleix Espargaro goes through in ninth, with the last rider in Q2 for now proving Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team)…. just! Alex Marquez, Joan Mir, Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) and Marc Marquez will now head for Q1.
Cold tyres caught out Bezzecchi and Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) early after the session was restarted. Both riders were up and ok, and back on track for the rest of the session. Miguel Oliveira (CryptoData RNF MotoGP™ Team) suffered a highside, rider ok, and teammate Raul Fernandez also crashed in the afternoon, rider ok.
Riders through to Q2:
Miller, Viñales, Bagnaia, Marini, Martin, Quartararo, Zarco, Bezzecchi, Aleix Espargaro and… Bastianini! Find the full timesheets below and join us for super Saturday with FP at 10:10, qualifying from 10:50 and then some history made at 15:00 as the first MotoGP™ Sprint begins!