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Quartararo’s only gone and done it again, hasn’t he? His second MotoGP win on the bounce has made it a hat-trick of wins for Yamaha; the first time the boys in blue have won the three opening races since 2010. But, as ever, MotoGP was about more than just one man. With crashes, yellow flags and cancelled laps adding twists and turns to the Portuguese plot, all weekend. To help you make sense of the weekend’s racing, or just to give you something to disagree with us about, here’s how we rated the top ten finishers from MotoGP in Portimão.
It was another fabulous performance from Fabio. He had blistering pace all weekend and won the race by nearly five seconds which doesn’t happen very often in MotoGP these days. And I would have given him full marks, if he didn’t get such a shite start; he started from pole but was in sixth by the end of lap one. He made up for it by the way he rode the race though. The only people who looked like they could hold a candle to his pace, fell by the wayside one-by-one. Their names were Johann Zarco and Alex Rins. Oh, and then there was Francesco Bagnaia…
If you watched qualifying, you’ll know Pecco had some serious pace. In fact he was almost half a second faster than anyone else, annihilating the lap record with his 1:38.494 lap. So why did he start from eleventh on the grid? Because he posted that magical lap whilst the yellow flags were waving (after a Miguel Olivera crash). But despite starting from eleventh, he made his way through the field and finished the race in second place. There were a few crashes in front of him, so you could argue he was gifted one or two spots, but that’s just how it goes. Had he been able to start from his (rightful or wrongful, you decide) grid position, I’m certain he would have been up there with Fabio, pushing for a win.
Joan (which I like to pronounce ‘Joan’ – as if it’s one of your Granny’s mates) showed us all why he is a MotoGP World Champion. He didn’t have the pace to stay with Quartararo, so rather than try and cling on to the leaders shirttails and end up throwing himself at the scenery (like his teammate, Rins), he let everyone else crash round him (well not ‘everyone’) and cruised safely home to third place, picking up 16 valuable points. Last year, he proved that you don’t have to be the fastest every weekend to win a championship. You just have to be consistent. And that’s exactly what he’s doing.
Morbz had a better time in Portugal, finishing fourth. His pace was really good at the end of the race, and he managed to catch Mir and Bagnaia, but he didn’t catch them soon enough to make a move. It looked as though he was trying to save his tyres for a late lunge. If he was, it was a good tactic, just not timed to perfection. Some you win, some you lose.
If Bradley could sort his qualifying out, I think he’d be a force to be reckoned with in MotoGP. But all too often he finds himself having to fight his way through from the back of the grid come Sunday. Maybe it’s because he struggles to get the best out of a soft tyre. Or maybe he’s concentrating too much on chasing pussy. I don’t know. But to come from fifteenth on the grid, to fifth in a MotoGP race demonstrates the lad has something special. He just needs some qualifying lessons from Quartararo.
I think ‘Spaggers gets a bit of a hard time from a lot of people. I know he isn’t, and never will be, the fastest MotoGP rider in the world, but he can ride a bike. And, if you ask me, the way he rode that Aprilia at the weekend was pretty impressive. In the early stages of the race he showed some real potential and at the end of the race, he was less than four seconds off the podium. And not only that, he beat plenty of people on ‘better’ bikes. Give the lad a break.
Like many people, I really, really didn’t know what to expect of MM93 in his return to GP racing after what seems like a lifetime. He looked fit and he looked fast, even if there was a lot of theatrical wincing and arm shaking. I don’t know if that was genuine or he was just doing that to remind us all that he’s not yet fully fit. He might not have won the race, but he was the first Honda home; and that’s a Honda that’s had a year of development without Marc’s input. When Honda go back to developing the RCV to suit MM93, it’s probably not going to be long before he’s back on the top step.
Marquez the younger had a fairly lonely ride on his LCR Honda. I’m sure he loves his brother, but he’s probably really pissed off that he’s turned up and kicked his arse after having a year off with a poorly arm. But don’t worry about it, Alex; I’m sure mum and dad are just as proud of you as they are of Marc.
Had it not been for Jorge Martin’s sensational performance at the last round at Qatar, you could be forgiven for calling ‘Bastia’ the rookie sensation. Don’t get me wrong, ninth place is respectable for one of the new kids on the block, but it won’t be grabbing many headlines. He was the highest placed rookie though, if that counts for anything. Whether he would have been fastest rookie if Martin was in the race is open for discussion. Jorge Martin was in hospital after spannering himself in a monster crash in free practice.
There were questions asked about whether this lad would be fit enough to race after a ridiculously fast crash in practice, but he put his big boy pants on and made it to the grid. Battered and bruised, and with half the skin missing off his left leg he valiantly soldiered on to take a tenth place finish. We’ll never know if he’d have been any higher up, had he been fully fit. But a top-ten in MotoGP is no mean feat, injured or not. Well done Takaaki, you brave, brave boy.
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