MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo Dominates the Portuguese Grand Prix
Fabio Quartararo takes his first win of the season takes the championship lead after a stunning ride in Portimao
Cloudy skies covered the Portimao circuit, after Friday and Saturday being wet it was dry for Sunday so there was a lot unknown for the riders. Everyone was running mediums front and rear except for Pol Espargaro and Alex Marquez who were running the hard rear.
The lights went out and it was a perfect launch for Joan Mir who took the holeshot from second on the grid, Fabio Quartararo was in second and Johann Zarco in third. That was short lived however as Jack Miller and Alex Marquez got through at turn five.
Alex Rins from 23rd on the grid had jumped up to 11th place after only half a lap and ended the first lap in tenth ahead of Marc Marquez.
Mir had a gap over Quartararo in second with Miller six tenths behind in third who was being pressured by fellow Ducati rider Zarco, Pecco Bagnaia was down in 21st position from the back of the grid.
Zarco went up the inside of the Australian into turn 14 to move into the podium places and had Alex Marquez close behind. Alex Rins was really moving up the order, getting into ninth passed Jorge Martin and looking likely to get into eighth passed Pol.
On lap four Quartararo out-dragged the Suzuki down the straight to take the lead after setting the fastest lap of the race; and the Frenchman was pulling away. Jorge Martin crashed out of the race at turn 14 on lap five, the Spaniard’s third DNF in five races.
The Repsol Hondas were fighting hard with each other for ninth place and they were losing touch with Rins and holding up championship leader Enea Bastianini. Marquez made a move at turn 13 and made it stick.
There was a four-way battle for fifth place between Alex Marquez, Aleix Espargaro, Miguel Oliveira and Alex Rins. Alex and Aleix were going back and forth through turns five and nine with Rins going around the outside of Alex and Oliveira. Rins then attacked Espargaro into turn 13 but the Aprilia was able to keep the position into turn 14.
On lap 10 the championship leader Bastianini crashed out of the race at turn eight. Takaaki Nakagami crashed at turn 13, hitting the back of Brad Binder.
On lap 13 Miller had set his personal best lap of the race and was closing in on Mir and Zarco, closing the gap to under a second. Rins and Espargaro were also setting personal best laps of the race and it was looking likely to be a five way fight for the last two spots on the podium.
Zarco blasted passed Mir down the straight but out-braked himself at turn one and let the 2020 World Champion through and Miller was now on the back of the two riders.
Zarco tried again on lap 17 and he made it stick, Mir was was now under threat from Miller with Aleix now joining the fight.
Another championship contender in Brad Binder crashed out in turn 11. Then on lap 19 Miller out-dragged Mir down the straight and Miller tried to hold it on the brakes but lost the front and took Mir with him, a huge dent in Mir’s championship hopes.
Pecco was in ninth closing in on Pol Espargaro, a great recovery from the injured rider. Also Pol was catching the two Marquez brothers but time was not looking to be on his side.
Alex and Marc were battling it out for sixth, Marc attacking into turn 13, but Alex getting back down the home straight.
Quartararo had put in a perfect performance and took his first victory of the season and his first since the British Grand Prix last season. Johann Zarco finished in second with Aleix Espargaro in third.
Alex Rins brought home an impressive fourth place and is in the joint lead of the championship with Quartararo, Miguel Oliveira took fifth place in-front of his home crowd and Marc was just able to beat his brother Alex for sixth, Pecco was able to pass Pol into turn 14 on the final lap to take eighth and Maverick Vinales rounded out the top ten.
Andrea Dovizios was 11th ahead of fellow Italian Luca Marini in 12th, Franco Morbidelli was 13th with Remy Gardner finishing top rookie in 14th and Marco Bezzecchi in 15th, Nakagami was able to remount and finish in 16th with Darryn Binder being the final finisher in 17th.
Quartararo and Rins lead the championship with 69 points, Aleix Espargaro in third with 66 points and Enea Bastianini in fourth on 61 points. It’s still anyone’s championship as they head to Jerez next week.
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