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A scintillating Saturday review- MotoGP Portuguese Grand Prix 2024

Written by Finn Glover


A valiant Vinales shone on day two in Portimao; Credit - Didocdusport

A scintillating saturday has set the scene for what seems to be a spectacular sunday to come. Drama, crashes and surprises have shone in the bright sunlight of Portimao- in what is shaping up to be a season to remember for MotoGP.


Qualifying


Business was as usual as the four honda riders rounded out the field of 2022, in what looks set to be a dark and dismal season for the manufacturer. They were the only riders still slumming in the 1 minute 39’s and will need desperate improvements if they want to salvage something from this season.


Some other big names fell foul in Q1, with the likes of Aleix Espargaro and Fabio Di Giannantonio not making it into the final part of qualifying. Having to back off on his final push lap, Espargaro will rue his chances on an Aprilia that is notoriously a slow starter, so starting in the bottom half will be not of good hearing for him. Joining them out were the two Trackhouse’s- Oliveira and Fernandez, along with Franco Morbidelli and Augusto Fernandez.


The riders to progress were Alex Marquez and Pedro Acosta- both putting in stunning laps to get through. For Alex Marquez’s brother Marc Maqruez and KTM’S Brad Binder it all came crashing down (quite literally) in Q1, with Marquez experiencing a horrible crash at the final corner at nearly 200 km/h. 


Both Yamaha’s had a very decent qualifying, with both Rins and Quartararo automatically qualifying for Q1. They finished 9th and 11th respectively. Pedro Acosta continued his remarkable start to the series, qualifying 7th, just behind KTM partner Jack Miller in 5th.


Yet Bastiannini blitzed to pole, a superb 1:37.706 narrowly ahead of Aprillia’s Maverick Vinales, a stunning 2nd. It was his first pole in the red of ducati, and a rare occasion in which he finished ahead of both Jorge Martin and Francesco Bagnaia.


Bastianini blitzed to pole with a 1:37.706; Credit - BikeSport News

The full qualifying result, which will also apply for Sundays main race, is as follows:


1 Enea Bastianini- Ducati Lenovo 

2 Maverick Vinales- Aprilia

3 Jorge Martin- Pramac Racing

4 Francesco Bagnaia- Ducati Lenovo

5 Jack Miller- KTM

6 Marco Bezzecchi- VR46

7 Pedro Acosta- Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

8 Marc Marquez- Gresini Ducati

9 Fabio Quartararo- Yamaha

10 Brad Binder- KTM

11 Alex Rins- Yamaha

12 Alex Marquez- Gresini Ducati

(Q1)

13 Aleix Espargaro- Aprilia

14 Fabio Di Giannantonio- VR46

15 Miguel Oliviera- Trackhouse

16 Raul Fernandez- Trackhouse 

17 Franco Morbidelli- Pramac Racing

18 Augusto Fernandez- Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

19 Johann Zarco- LCR Honda

20 Joan Mir- Repsol Honda

21 Takaaki Nakagami- LCR Honda

22 Luca Marini- Repsol Honda



The Sprint


A stunning sprint race took place on Saturday in Portimao. 


A shocking start from poleman Bastiannini left him plummeting down the order all the way to 5th by the end of lap 1. It was Jack Miller onboard the fast-looking KTM to take the lead on lap 1, closely followed by another fast-starting Pecco Bagnaia. After taking an early holeshot, Vinales ended up in 3rd by the end of lap one.


Marc Marquez then hustled his way past Vinales into third, with the Gresini racer searching for his first victory in any form since Emilia Romagna in October 2021. Just after that, Bagnaia lunged up the inside of the KTM of Jack Miller into the final corner, taking the lead, and growing a gap which would fluctuate around the one-second mark for the majority of the race. 


Yet Marquez just kept progressing, striving past Jack Miller and heading up into 2nd place, within touching distance of a sprint victory to savor. Yet Miller kept on falling- dropping down to a respectable 5th place by the end of the race.


Lap four was not a lap to remember for lots of riders, three of which crashed out individually on the same lap, barely 1 minute apart. Johann Zarco, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Brad Binder all crashed out, depleting the field to 18 runners.


A lap later disaster struck for Marc Marquez, a massive snap at Turn five, giving Vinales all the invitation he needed to seethe on by and get into second. He was quickly followed by Jorge Martin- dropping the Gresini man all the way down to fourth. 


It all seemed under control for Bagnaia at the front- unchallenged, unfazed and seemingly uncatchable. Yet it all went sliding away at Turn one on Lap nine, as he lost control of the bike and ran wide, dropping all the way down to fourth, leaving Vinales leading and under mega siege from Martin and Marquez. They challenged him all the way, barely half a second separating the top three on the road. 


Bagnaia slewed wide at Turn 1 on lap 9, a rare mistake by the champion; Credit - TNT Sports

A slight mistake from Martin left a bit of breathing room for Vinales, which was then emphasized by a boisterous move from Marc Marquez on the final lap at turn 5, barging Martin out the way.


Ultimately, he couldn’t fight back, and the gap had grown big enough for Vinales to ride threat-free to the line, taking his first victory in any form on Aprilia machinery. He was followed home by Marquez and Martin, Bagnaia in fourth narrowly holding off Jack Miller and co. 


The full Sprint results are as follow: 


1 Maverick Vinales- Aprilia

2 Marc Marquez- Gresini Ducati

3 Jorge Martin- Pramac Racing

4 Francesco Bagnaia- Ducati Lenovo

5 Jack Miller- KTM

6 Enea Bastiannini- Ducati Lenovo

7 Pedro Acosta- Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

8 Aleix Espargaro- Aprilia

9 Fabio Quartararo- Yamaha

10 Raul Fernandez- Trackhouse

11 Marco Bezzecchi- VR46

12 Miguel Oliviera- Trackhouse

13 Alex Marquez- Gresini Ducati

14 Joan Mir- Repsol Honda

15 Augusto Fernandez- Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

16 Franco Morbidelli- Pramac Racing

17 Takaaki Nakagami- LCR Honda

18 Luca Marini- Repsol Honda

DNF Johann Zarco-  LCR Honda

DNF Brad Binder- KTM

DNF Fabio Di Giannantonio- VR46

DNF Alex Rins- Yamaha


That's all for Saturday- but be sure to tune in for tomorrow’s main event. It’s bound to be a banger, and the door is wide open for anyone to take victory. Will Vinales be victorious again? Or will 

Marquez reignite his spark? Nobody knows- but you can find out by watching tomorrow.


Will Vinales be victorious tomorrow?; Credit - Autosport

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