At the end of a wet and somewhat windy Friday at the Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal, it’s a Repsol Honda 1-2, with eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez top of the pile and followed closely by teammate Pol Espargaro. In third but a few tenths further back came 2020 MotoGP™ World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), already no stranger to the podium at Portimão. Both sessions for the premier class were wet, as was the whole day on the Algarve.
Marquez sent out a serious warning shot to his title rivals, taking to the top in difficult conditions despite only having raced the venue once before. The Spaniard is widely regarded as a master of tough, low-grip conditions and he displayed that on first time of asking this weekend, putting himself well over three tenths clear of Mir in second.
Arguably the performance of the morning, however, came courtesy of Mooney VR46 rookie Marco Bezzecchi, who threw in a 1:51.136 to sit third. Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco took fourth, with home hero Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) off to a good start as he gave the rather cold and rather damp fans in attendance a welcome boost in fifth.
Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales made it five factories in the top six, but there were no fewer than five Ducatis in the top ten thanks to the effort of Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin and the Ducati Lenovo Team duo of Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller, who sat seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, the latter despite a tumble at Turn 8. Completing the top ten was LCR Honda Castrol’s Alex Marquez, with just under a second covering the number 93 to the number 73.
The first MotoGP™ faller of the weekend was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), who suffered a highside on the exit of Turn 9. Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini also crashed out in the closing moments, the Italian finding the gravel trap at Turn 8. Riders ok.
Tricky conditions deteriorated into the afternoon, meaning only three riders were able to improve in FP2- One of them was Pol Espargaro, however, as the number 44 put in a lap only 0.041 off his teammate’s morning effort. Said Marquez was second in the afternoon as the Repsol Honda duo switched order, but the number 93 was six tenths in arrears.
The other two riders to improve from FP1 were the Yamaha pair of Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Dovizioso’s half a second gain saw him move up from 22nd to 14th and, as a result, take the honour of top Yamaha on a tough day for the blue brand. Morbidelli found a tenth to jump up a place into 18th.
There were three further fallers in the afternoon. The first to go down was Bagnaia when the front end of his GP22 folded without warning at Turn 3. Bezzecchi then suffered a nasty highside at Turn 9, before Zarco lost his Pramac Racing machine at Turn 2. Riders all ok.
Provisional Q2 places
Behind Marquez and Espargaro comes Mir, the Suzuki rider using the rear ride height device for the first time in the wet according to Team Manager Livio Suppo. Bezzecchi takes P4 on the combined timesheets thanks to his FP1 best, with Zarco locking out the top five.
Home hero Oliveira showed promising pace in sixth overall ahead of Viñales and Martin, with the factory Ducati duo of Bagnaia and Miller rounding out the top ten on Friday.
That leaves one very big name out of Q2 as it stands: reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). He was 20th, and form man Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) sits a place even further back in 21st. The pair will be hoping for better conditions on Saturday with the forecast, to their delight, looking a little more promising for the moment.
FP3 starts at 9:55 (GMT+1) to decide those going straight through to Q2, and qualifying then gets underway from 14:10. Don’t miss it as the rollercoaster gets ready to serve up another classic encounter!