Moto2 Portimao: Raul Fernandez secures first-ever intermediate class victory
Raul Fernandez continued his blistering start to life in Moto2 by winning the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao.
In only his third race, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider managed his tyres in the early stages - having learnt from both Qatar races - and fought his way to the front with a few laps remaining.
Fernandez dove down the inside of Joe Roberts, before making short work of Aron Canet for the lead with four laps remaining. The Spaniard crossed the line to take his second successive victory at the Portuguese track, having won the Moto3 race last November, by 1.6s.
Canet crossed the line in second, but there was drama behind him. Roberts was pushed wide by Remy Gardner through the final corner and lost his spot on the podium to the Australian.
Augusto Fernandez clinched his best result of the season so far in fifth, ahead of early leader Marco Bezzecchi and Xavi Vierge. Hector Garzo, Cameron Beaubier and Marcel Schrotter completed the top 10.
Moto2 rookie Fraser Rogers finish in 20th spot for the NTS RW Racing GP team. At one stage in the race Rogers was ahead of his more experienced teammate Hafizh Syahrin.
Sam Lowes' race came to a dramatic end at the very first corner. A slow getaway saw the Brit fall back into the back a little, and Lowes was then late on the brakes heading into turn one. In order to miss the back of Gardner, Lowes went off-line and was thrown over the handlebars. Lowes was also hit by his Elf Marc VDS machine in the gravel.
Jorge Navarro crashed out of the race at turn five and moments later there was another huge incident at the final corner. Yari Montella had a huge highside and Stefano Manzi had nowhere to go, unfortunately striking the fallen rider ahead of him. There was then a fireball in the gravel with one of the bikes catching fire.
The drama wasn't over there. At turn five, the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia duo of Ai Ogura and Somkiat Chantra went down together. Ogura had been hit by Cameron Beaubier and was sent into his teammate.
A few moments later Nicolo Bulega wiped Celestino Vietti out at the first corner. Bulega went in too deep and cut across the front of Vietti's bike, clipping his front wheel. Bo Bendsneyder was another faller at turn five.
Petronas Sprinta Racing's Jake Dixon was the next rider to fall out of contention. The Brit lost control of the front end of his bike heading down to turn eight. Fortunately, Dixon didn't appear to be any discomfort as he walked away from the scene.
Lowes' crash means that Gardner now leads the championship by four points. Fernandez moves up to second, two points clear of Lowes in third.
MotoGP Portimao: Fabio Quartararo takes dominating victory in Portugal
First published: 18 April 2021 at 14:01 by Josh Close
The Frenchman, who topped FP3, FP4 and qualifying, bounced make from a tough start of the race to take a commanding victory. Quartararo made a late decision on the grid to swap to the hard rear tyre and it certainly worked. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider now holds a 15-point lead in the standings.
Quartararo withstood immense pressure from Alex Rins in the early stages, with the duo exchanging fastest laps. However, Rins pushed too hard, and the Suzuki rider's race came to a premature end when he crashed at turn five.
Francesco Bagnaia recovered from 11th on the grid, after seeing his record-breaking pole lap ruled out due to yellow flags, to take second. Reigning champion Joan Mir finished third to take his first podium of 2021.
Franco Morbidelli was fourth ahead of a resurgent Brad Binder in fifth. The South African hadn't shown any real pace throughout the weekend up until today and had started the race from 15th on the grid.
Aleix Espargaro secured his best finish of the season in sixth. It's only Aprilia's sixth top sixth finish in MotoGP as they edge closer to a podium spot.
The returning Marc Marquez was seventh after battling through the pain barrier. The Repsol Honda rider made a great start and was third on the opening lap, but as predicted, eventually began to fall down the order. Still, it was a remarkable performance and Marquez was emotional in the pit box afterwards.
Alex Marquez was eighth ahead of leading rookie Enea Bastianini, whilst the battered and bruised Takaaki Nakagami completed the top 10 for LCR Honda. Maverick Vinales was 11th after dropping down to 20th on the opening lap. It's not known yet what exactly happened to the Spaniard.
Johann Zarco, championship leader heading into today's race, crashed out of the second place that he'd inherited from Rins. The Pramac Ducati rider hit the deck at turn 10.
Pol Espargaro returned to the Repsol Honda garage at the end of lap four with a bike issue. The team were looking at the rear tyre as the Spaniard jumped off the RC213V.
Moments later Jack Miller went down at turn three whilst battling inside the top five. Last year's Portuguese Grand Prix winner Miguel Oliveira, who beat Miller for the win last season, went down on the same lap, hitting the deck at turn 14. The KTM rider did re-join the race, crossing the line in 16th place.
Valentino Rossi became the third crasher of the day at turn 11. The Petronas Yamaha rider had just overtaken brother Marini for 11th when he fell.
Moto3 Portimao: Pedro Acosta wins again after sensational final lap
First published: 18 April 2021 at 12:24 by Josh Close
Acosta stalked Dennis Foggia for the majority of the race before diving down the inside of the Leopard Racing rider at turn 13 on the final lap - after rehearsing that exact move multiple times. Despite clearly struggling with grip, Acosta made a couple of great saves including a huge moment coming down the hill of turn 15.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider managed to break the slipstream of Foggia and crossed the line with a 0.051s advantage. Acosta becomes the first rider to take three podiums in his first three Grand Prix races since Daijiro Kato and now holds a comfortable 31-point advantage in the standings.
Andrea Migno completed the podium after beating Ayumu Sasaki to the line by 0.031. Gabriel Rodrigo was fifth after bouncing back from a long lap penalty. Rodrigo was penalised after clipping Xavier Artigas at turn three on the fourth lap. Rodrigo was handed a long lap penalty whilst he was in third spot. He rejoined the race in 15th on lap nine.
Niccolo Antonelli was sixth ahead of Romano Fenati, with Sergio Garcia, Jaume Masia and Ryusei Yamanaka completed the top 10. Title-chasing Masia fell from third on the final lap, crashing at turn five. Stefano Nepa and Jason Dupasquier narrowly missed out on a spot inside the top 10.
Moments before the start of the race it was announced by race direction that Darryn Binder and Deniz Oncu had both been given pit-lane starts for irresponsible riding in Q2. Oncu also had to wait a further five seconds after the final bike had gone past pit exit. John McPhee and Jeremy Alcoba also started from the pits with an extra 10 and five seconds wait respectively for their fight in Qatar.
Alcoba was the highest-placed finished from that group in 14th, just ahead of Oncu in 15th spot. Binder crossed the line in 20th, whilst McPhee was 23rd and 37.450s behind the winner. McPhee has zero points after the opening three rounds of the season, whilst Binder is now 34 points behind Acosta.
Kaito Toba and Izan Guevara went down at turn three on lap eight. Toba ran into the back of Niccolo Antonelli, and Guevara simply had nowhere to go. Turn three also claimed Tatsuki Suzuki and Adrian Fernandez on lap 16, with the former running into Suzuki on corner entry.
Moto2 Portimao: Sam Lowes secures third consecutive pole of 2021
First published: 17 April 2021 by Josh Close
The Elf Marc VDS rider has made fantastic start to 2021, winning both races in Qatar, and looks set to once again be the man to beat in tomorrow's race. Lowes' fastest time of 1:42.901 was 0.023s quicker than his closest title rival Remy Gardner. Lowes did suffer a fall at turn 11 in the closing stages, however he was able to walk away without any problems.
The Aussie rider finished second to Lowes in both of the Qatar races and it appears that the duo will once again battle for victory tomorrow afternoon in Portugal. The pair are joined on the first row by Xavi Vierge, who seals his best qualifying position since he took pole at the 2020 European GP in Valencia.
Ai Ogura was the fastest rookie in fourth spot and was only 0.046s off a spot on the front row. The Japanese rider is joined on row two by Marco Bezzecchi and Augusto Fernandez on the second Marc VDS machine.
Albert Arenas was seventh on his Aspar machine, whilst Friday's pacesetter Joe Roberts, Aron Canet and Raul Fernandez completed the top 10.
Britain's Jake Dixon will start tomorrow's race from 14th on the grid, just behind five-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion Cameron Beaubier. Dixon missed last November's race at Portimao due to his wrist injury.
Fraser Rogers, stepping in for the injured Barry Baltus at the NTS RW Racing GP team, qualified 29th on the grid - ahead of Jorge Navarro.
Tomorrow's Moto2 race is the final event of the day in Portimao and is due to begin at 14:30.
MotoGP Portimao: Fabio Quartararo inherits pole position as Francesco Bagnaia's lap is cancelled
First published: 17 April 2021 at 15:16 by Josh Close
Bagnaia thought he had taken top spot after smashing the all-time circuit record by 0.4s with his 1:38.494. However, Ducati's celebrations were brought to an end when it was revealed that Bagnaia's lap was completed whilst yellow flags were in use.
The yellow flags had been waved due to Miguel Oliveira's crash at turn nine and as a result Bagnaia will now start tomorrow's race from 11th on the grid.
Meanwhile, Quartararo inherited pole position with his own record-breaking lap-time. The Frenchman's 1:38.862 was 0.030s quicker than Oliveira's old circuit record. Quartararo was fast throughout the day, setting eight 1:39.9 lap-times during FP4.
Alex Rins broke Suzuki's qualifying curse in second spot, with championship leader Johann Zarco completing the front-row. Zarco bounced back from a crash at turn 11 in the opening stages of the session.
Jack Miller heads the second row ahead of Franco Morbidelli and, remarkably, the returning Marc Marquez. The latter was getting closer and closer to the limit throughout the day and was seen holding and shaking his right arm before he went out for his final run.
Aleix Espargaro is seventh for Aprilia ahead of rookie Luca Marini and reigning champion Joan Mir. Marini was forced to use his second bike after a quick FP4 crash at turn nine. Oliveira completes the top 10 for KTM.
Maverick Vinales is 12th after having two laps cancelled in Q2. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider lost his first flying lap due to the yellow flags for Zarco's crash. He then lost another lap for exceeding track limits at turn four.
Marc Marquez and Mir made it through to Q2 from the opening qualifying session. Marquez was glued to the back of the reigning champion in the early stages and went fastest with a little bit of a tow
Alex Marquez was the best of the rest for LCR Honda and will start tomorrow's race from 13th on the grid. Pol Espargaro will be next to him in 14th after contesting Q1 in some discomfort following a highside at turn 15 in FP4.
Brad Binder and Enea Bastianini were 15th and 16th respectively, whilst Valentino Rossi endured another tough afternoon in 17th. Danilo Petrucci, Iker Lecouna and Lorenzo Savadori complete the grid at it stands.
Takaaki Nakagami did not take part in qualifying and was seen with a sling on his right arm following his crash at turn one in FP2. Jorge Martin has been ruled out of the weekend following an accident in FP4. The Pramac Racing Ducati rider has been taken to hospital.
Tomorrow's MotoGP race is due to take place at 13:00. In a change to the regular running order, MotoGP will take place in-between the Moto3 and Moto2 races.
Moto3 Portimao: Andrea Migno beats Dennis Foggia to pole position
First published: 17 April at 13:41 by Josh Close
There may be penalties coming later this evening for several riders who were, once again, riding slowly on the racing line whilst trying to find a tow for their final flying laps. Nevertheless, Migno will start from the very front after posting a quickest lap-time of 1:47.423.
Dennis Foggia was 0.149s slower than Migno in second, whilst Jeremy Alcoba qualified in third. However, Alcoba will not take his spot on the grid after being handed a pit-lane start, plus five seconds, penalty for 'fighting' with John McPhee at Qatar 2. Instead, Sergio Garcia will complete the front-row tomorrow.
Gabriel Rodrigo qualified in fifth spot ahead of McPhee, however, as explained above, the Scot will not take his spot on the grid. He has a pit-lane start penalty and will have to wait a further 10 seconds after the last rider from the grid has gone past the pit exit.
That promotes Deniz Oncu to fifth on the grid after the Turkish rider qualified seventh. Darryn Binder, Xavier Artigas and Ayumu Sasaki completed the top 10 in the Q2 session but will all be promoted two places. Jaume Masia had his final time cancelled for exceeding track limits and will line-up on the grid ninth ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Pedro Acosta.
Filip Salac and Gabriel Rodrigo crashed together in the closing minutes of the session, whilst Niccolo Antonelli mistimed his pit exit and failed to cross the line to start his final lap before the chequered flag was waved.
Andi Farid Izdihar was knocked out of his Q2 qualification spot in Q1 by Salac in the closing seconds, losing out by just 0.008s.
Tomorrow's Moto3 race at Portimao is due to begin at 11:20am.
Moto2 Portimao: Joe Roberts dominates the opening day in Portugal
First published: 16 April 2021 by Josh Close
The American mastered the mixed conditions in this morning's FP1 session, before once again setting the fastest lap-time in FP2. His 1:43.144 was 0.317s quicker than rookie sensation Raul Fernandez.
Fernandez has enjoyed a fantastic start to life in the intermediate class, taking a podium at Qatar 2, and rumours are already circulating about a possible promotion to one of KTM's MotoGP teams in the near future.
Aussie Remy Gardner was fourth overall ahead of Marco Bezzecchi and Hector Garzo, whilst championship leader Sam Lowes was seventh for Elf Marc VDS Racing. 2020 Moto3 champion Albert Arenas was eighth, with Marcel Schrotter and Xavi Vierge completing the top 10.
Despite having never raced at Portimao before, Jake Dixon ended the opening day inside the automatic Q2 positions in 11th. The Brit missed last year's season finales in Portugal through injury.
As things stand, Yari Montella, Augusto Fernandez and Somkiat Chantra hold the three remaining Q2 spots. Thomas Luthi missed out on a top 14 spot by only 0.037s, whilst Stefano Manzi was a further 0.011s back in 16th.
Tomorrow's FP3 session is due to begin at 10:55 and will be followed by Q1 and Q2 at 15:10 and 15:35.
MotoGP Portimao: Francesco Bagnaia pips Fabio Quartararo to top spot on day one
First published: 16 April 2021 at 15:22 by Josh Close
The factory Ducati rider's quickest lap-time of 1:39.866 was enough to overcome the challenge of Qatar 2 race winner Fabio Quartararo by 0.038s. The duo were the only riders to dip into the 1:39s today.
It was a fantastic day for the Suzuki pairing of Joan Mir and Alex Rins. As things stand, they'll both go straight into Q2, in third and fourth respectively. If that happens, it'll be the first time that 2020 champion Mir has gone straight into Q2.
Jack Miller completed the top five ahead of the returning Marc Marquez, who has clearly put any nerves to one side. The Repsol Honda man quicker got back into his groove, ending FP1 in third spot, and posted his fastest lap-time of the day in the closing seconds. His 1:40.339 was only 0.473s off Bagnaia's time. Marquez also treated his fans to a traditional 'on the edge' moment coming through turn seven.
Maverick Vinales was seventh ahead of championship leader Johann Zarco, whilst Miguel Oliveira and Takaaki Nakagami completed the top 10. It was brave performance by Nakagami, who returned to the track after a trip to the medical centre. The LCR Honda rider had a huge crash heading down the hill into turn one and was visibly in some discomfort.
Alex Marquez and Pol Espargaro were 11th and 12th, whilst Luca Marini was the fastest rookie in 13th spot. Friday proved to be another disappointing day for the Petronas Yamaha duo. Valentino Rossi was 15th, whilst Franco Morbidelli was down in 19th position.
Aleix Espargaro crashed at turn 11 in the closing minutes of FP2 and ends the first day in 14th overall.
Tomorrow morning's FP3 session is due to begin at 9.55 and will be followed by FP4 at 13:30. Q1 will then take place at 14:10, followed by Q2 at 14:35.
Moto3 Portimao: Gabriel Rodrigo tops the opening day after mixed conditions
First published: 16 April 2021 at 14:31 by Josh Close
The opening two free practice sessions were affected by mixed conditions. In FP1 all of the riders were off the pace due to the circuit being damp in places, whilst FP2 was brought to a premature end due to rain.
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Nevertheless, before the rain came Rodrigo was the fastest man on the circuit for the Indonesian Racing Gresini team. His lap-time of 1:49.538 was 0.476s quicker than Andrea Migno, whilst Jaume Masia completed the top three.
Sergio Garcia was fourth on the GASGAS Valresa Aspar bike, ahead of Romano Fenati and championship leader Pedro Acosta. Unlike Losail, Acosta has previously raced at Portimao during his time in the Red Bull Rookies series.
Tatsuki Suzuki ended the opening day in seventh, whilst Jason Dupasquier, Dennis Foggia and Niccolo Antonelli completed the top 10. Petronas Sprinta Racing's Darryn Binder was 11th, ahead of FP1's fastest rider Deniz Oncu and Izan Guevara.
As things stand, John McPhee holds the final automatic Q2 spot in 14th, despite crashing at turn four earlier in the session. However, no matter what happens tomorrow, McPhee will start Sunday's race from the pit-lane and will then need to wait for a further 10 seconds before he's able to start his race.
The penalty was handed to the Scot for his part in the confrontation between himself and Jeremy Alcoba in Qatar. Ironically, Alcoba was the next rider in the standings in FP2. He will also start the race from the pits and has an extra five-second delay before he's allowed to begin.
Tomorrow's FP3 session is due to begin at 9am. This will be followed by Q1 at 12:35 and then Q2 at 13:00.