until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Bagnaia dominates MotoGP opener, Marquez triggers pile-up

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
8 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Reigning MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia won Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix to complete a perfect start to his title defence, as a Marc Marquez crash took several frontrunners out of the victory battle.

Despite a slower getaway off the line than his fellow front row starters, poleman Marquez very briefly featured in the lead early on. Home hero Miguel Oliveira had lunged to first place at Turn 1, and Jorge Martin then repassed him coming out of the corner, but Marquez divebombed at Turn 2.

This, however, compromised his line and he nearly went down from contact coming out of the corner.

Two laps later, he and the riders around him were not so lucky. By then, Bagnaia – third after the opening stretch of the corners – had picked off Martin at the start of the second tour and put a move on Oliveira for the lead at Turn 13.

This put Oliveira in the firing line when Marquez seemed to get his braking terribly wrong at Turn 3, clipping Martin – who was relegated well down the order – before absolutely clobbering into the new RNF Aprilia signing.

Both riders were out on the spot, and most concern initially over Oliveira. He was taken to the circuit medical centre for a check-up where he was diagnosed with “a contusion on his right upper leg”, as per RNF. But it turned out to be Marquez who was the more seriously hurt, as he is suspected to have sustained a hand fracture.

Marquez came to the RNF Aprilia garage in the aftermath, seemingly apologising to team boss Razlan Razali and then doing likewise to the audibly-irate Portuguese crowd.

The collision left a one-second gap between Bagnaia and Maverick Vinales, promoted from fifth to second. But Vinales then made very quick work of said gap, latching on to the rear tyre of the Ducati.

Yet despite being consistently quicker in the final sector he never looked particularly close to mounting an overtake, and around the halfway point of the race Bagnaia pumped in the fastest lap to re-establish a gap over Vinales.

This oscillated around the one-second mark for most of the remainder of the race, albeit Vinales did briefly close to half a second off on the final lap, ultimately finishing 0.687s behind.

VR46 Ducati rider Marco Bezzecchi completed the podium after his crash in the sprint, effectively securing his podium by a superb early lunge on KTM’s Jack Miller at Turn 1.

Miller then fell behind Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez, and the latter proceeded to spend almost the entire race in fourth place, frustrating Miller and the other KTM of Brad Binder by repassing them on the main straight every time they briefly got past.

Ultimately, he couldn’t repeat the same trick when Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco, muscling his way up the order, overtook him at the very end.

The KTMs were sixth and seventh, Binder – who spent the whole weekend suffering from neck pain – getting the better of Miller.

Fabio Quartararo had an inauspicious race, with a seeming repeat of his poor start from the sprint forcing him to spend several laps stuck behind VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini.

After he did get past Marini at Turn 2, he would also get through on Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro for eighth – Espargaro featuring in that late multi-bike battle for fourth place before dropping back.

The three Hondas of Alex Rins (LCR), Joan Mir (works team) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR) completed the top 12, Mir having served a long-lap penalty for his collision with Quartararo on Saturday.

Rookie Augusto Fernandez began his MotoGP career with a credible 13th, outfoxing the second works Yamaha of Franco Morbidelli, who then dropped back and completed the list of finishers in 14th, 27 seconds off the win.

After being caught up in that early incident, Martin fought his way back through to pass Marini but crashed out almost immediately after.

Marini then crashed himself, and Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia) subsequently fell out of the points.

The only other retirement was Fabio Di Giannantonio, who pulled his Gresini-run Ducati into the pits after just a few laps.

There were 20 riders contesting the race, with both Enea Bastianini (Ducati) and Pol Espargaro (Tech3 Gas Gas) facing multi-race absences after sustaining injuries earlier in the weekend.

Bagnaia leads the championship by 12 points over Vinales.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Bike Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 25 24 41m25.401s 1m38.875s 0 25
2 Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Aprilia 25 0 +0.687s 1m38.934s 0 20
3 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 25 0 +2.726s 1m38.894s 0 16
4 Johann Zarco Prima Pramac Racing Ducati 25 0 +8.06s 1m38.998s 0 13
5 Alex Marquez Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 25 0 +8.125s 1m39.04s 0 11
6 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 25 0 +8.247s 1m38.973s 0 10
7 Jack Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 25 0 +8.381s 1m39.056s 0 9
8 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 25 0 +8.543s 1m39.058s 0 8
9 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia Racing Aprilia 25 0 +9.294s 1m38.872s 0 7
10 Alex Rins LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 25 0 +11.591s 1m39.073s 0 6
11 Joan Mir Repsol Honda Team Honda 25 0 +16.992s 1m39.393s 0 5
12 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 25 0 +17.448s 1m39.397s 0 4
13 Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM 25 0 +21.723s 1m39.461s 0 3
14 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 25 0 +27.05s 1m39.62s 0 2
Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia 23 0 DNF 1m39.282s 0 0
Luca Marini Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 21 0 DNF 1m39.157s 0 0
Jorge Martin Prima Pramac Racing Ducati 19 0 DNF 1m38.902s 0 0
Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 10 0 DNF 1m40.343s 0 0
Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia 2 1 DNF 1m39.818s 0 0
Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team Honda 2 0 DNF 1m39.683s 0 0
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