By Michael Gougis
Jack Miller’s pre-season was challenging, but at the end of the first official day of the 2023 MotoGP season, he was quickest, smashing the best-ever lap time at the Autodromo Internactional do Algarve in Portugal.
Miller’s lap at 1:37.709 was more than a second under the existing all-time lap record of 1:38.725 set by Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia in 2021. Maverick Vinales was second-quickest, his Aprilia sporting even more new aerodynamic devices around the front wheel, and only 0.037 second back. Bagnaia was third, 0.147 second behind Miller.
Pol Espargaro suffered an ugly highside and became entangled with his GASGAS racebike as the bike and rider slid through the gravel. He was reported to be conscious.
More, from a press release issued by Gresini Racing:
ALEX MARQUEZ SHOWS SOME SKILLS ON DAY 1 AT PORTIMAO
Team Gresini left a mark in the inaugural day of action for the 2023 season and does so with Alex Marquez, who in his official debut on the sky-blue liveried Ducati machine surprised everyone (or almost everyone) with the quickest time in the FP1 session (1’38.782secs). In what was a more complex afternoon session, with two red flag situations, logged a 1’38.385secs – a time that was not quick enough to be seeded directly to the first Q2 of the year.
The experienced Spaniard is 0.6secs away from the top and only one tenth shy of the last classified of the ‘Q2 lot’. He will be the favourite in tomorrow’s Q1, which will also feature Fabio Di Giannantonio. The Italian, who is back in action after the crash in the official test here at Portimao, saw his confidence affected a little by a crash at turn five.
Proceedings will resume tomorrow: FP3 will begin at 10:10, while qualifying is scheduled at 10:50 (LOCAL TIME GMT).
11th – ALEX MARQUEZ #73
“Generally speaking it was a positive day, we only needed one little push to get into Q2. We missed out on the perfect lap and I’m aware it’s an area I need to improve. This was the first day of the season and maybe I was a little bit more nervous than usual. We still need to improve something strategy wise, but it’s normal on the first day of a Grand Prix.”
21st – FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #49
“It was a bit of a chaotic day between track conditions and red flags, but I wasn’t expecting that much of a difference only for one day of testing I missed. We lapped the same as we did in Day one of testing, while the others had made already a big step forward. We’re a bit on the back foot and we need to understand how to be better tomorrow. The crash didn’t help, but fortunately I’m fine.”
More, from a press release issued by RNF MotoGP Team:
Eventful opening day of 2023 at the roller coaster
The opening day of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve proved to be an eventful one. This morning’s FP1 was spoiled by some light rain in the beginning, while two red flags hindered proceedings in the afternoon during Free Practice two.
Both CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team riders Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira struggled to build up the right confidence and speed with the interruptions, and on their way to a fast time, both went down. Luckily, Fernandez and Oliveira came away with no further damage, although the Portuguese home hero was affected by a contusion to his left foot and leg.
In FP1, Fernandez couldn’t find the good feeling he had during the test at this venue. He persisted, however, and worked with his team to improve in FP2. After his crash, he had to do his time attack with the bike that wasn’t adapted in terms of setting. Nevertheless, the Spaniard managed to improve his lap time from FP1 by nearly one second. He was still in P17 at the end of the day, but missing out on the top 10 by just 0.648 seconds.
At the same time, local man Oliveira struggled likewise to build a feeling in the changing conditions this morning and at the beginning of FP2, which was quickly interrupted by nearly half an hour by some timing issues. After the re-start, the Portuguese suffered a crash out of turn ten, where he hit his left leg heavily. Despite his crash, he was able to improve his lap time from the morning session by 0.836 seconds and ended the day in P19, just 0.054 seconds behind his teammate.
Both riders are looking to gain more confidence in Free Practice three tomorrow at 10:10 local time (11:10 CET) in hopes of making it through to Q2 and securing a solid starting position for the first-ever MotoGP sprint race on Saturday at 15:00 local time (16:00 CET).
“The first session and the first run of the second session was far from ideal today, I didn’t feel good with the bike and felt quite uncomfortable. But the team did a great job, we changed some things and they gave me a good setting on the bike. But when I went out for the time attack, I crashed and the second bike wasn’t ready with the settings that I liked. I still did the time attack with the less preferred bike, but obviously, didn’t feel 100% comfortable with it. We will try again tomorrow and I hope we have better weather and I feel that we will also do a better job.”
“Today was a strange day. We had Practice one with some drizzle at the beginning and managed to do only two runs. Therefore, we were not able to get a really good feeling. In Free Practice two it started quite well, I felt good with the bike, but when I tried the other bike we had in the garage with another configuration there was an issue with the steering damper. Then, there was this huge delay on the timing error. I don’t know what happened. For sure today was not the brightest day in terms of how smooth the sessions were. I had a heavy crash when I went on my out lap with new tyres. I went down because of a cold rear tyre. At first, I thought Pol’s bike had hit me, but then I completely understood that I crashed alone and I highsided at the entry of turn 11. Luckily, I had just a contusion of my foot and on my left leg. Still I tried to do my best and go out with the soft front and the soft rear, trying to get a good lap time. But I was just not confident and just tried to get through the day. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll have a better one.”
More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:
MIXED FIRST DAY IN PORTIMAO FOR MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP
Portimao (Portugal), 24th March 2023
GRAND PRIX OF PORTUGAL
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli were keen to kick off the 2023 MotoGP season today at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. However, the first day of the Grande Prémio de Portugal was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Damp conditions in P1 and two red flags in P2 kept the riders on their toes. Quartararo ultimately secured 6th in the combined session rankings and so a place in tomorrow‘s Q2. Franco Morbidelli ended the day in 20th place and will take part in Q1.
6th FABIO QUARTARARO 1’38.015 (P2) / 16+29 LAPS
20th FRANCO MORBIDELLI 1’38.978 (P2) / 13+29 LAPS
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team was excited to commence the Grande Prémio de Portugal and thus their 2023 MotoGP World Championship quest. Fabio Quartararo saved the best for last and spurted to sixth overall, earning him a place in tomorrow‘s Q2. Franco Morbidelli suffered a highside in the damp early stages of P1, but was OK to keep riding. The Italian ended the day in 20th place and will take part in tomorrow‘s Q1.
Fans were cheering as they saw Quartararo enter the track for P1. With the GP weekend format changed for 2023, the Friday sessions carry even more importance. For the Frenchman it was therefore key to start work on his bike‘s settings. Several riders opted for a soft rear tyre in the final stages of the session to put in a time attack. El Diablo, however, stayed out on a soft-medium tyre combination and set a 1‘39.281s on lap 16/16, to take eighth place, 0.499s from the top.
The number-20 rider worked himself up to the top spot only 10 minutes into the sunny afternoon session. Having a full hour of dry track time, he aimed to make the most of the opportunity to prepare for tomorrow‘s Sprint and Sunday‘s race. However, two red flags halted his progress slightly. When the session got back underway for a second time, Quartararo went into time attack mode. He set a 1‘38.015s on lap 28/29, to take sixth place in the P2 and combined timesheets, 0.306s from first. It got him straight into tomorrow‘s Q2.
Rain in Moto2 P1, right before the very first MotoGP session of 2023, had made the track slippery. As Morbidelli headed out on slicks, he suffered an early highside, but he was quick to step back aboard his M1 and ride it to the pit box. When the Italian returned out on track, the riding line was significantly dryer and he gradually rose through the rankings until the final minutes when a time attack started. He ended the session in 14th place, 0.847s off the fastest time, with a 1‘39.629s, set on lap 12/13.
The number-21 was OK to start pushing again in the P2 session in the afternoon, but it wasn‘t all plain sailing. A technical issue at the Portimao circuit caused a red-flag interruption, and later a heavy crash by a fellow MotoGP rider halted the session once again. The stop-start situation meant Morbidelli had to abort his original plans to improve rear grip. He pushed in the final minutes, but his 1‘38.978s, set on lap 27/29, put him in 20th place in the P2 and combined results, 1.269s from first.
It was a mixed first day in Portimao in more ways than one. The riders and team had to adapt to the new format – which allows little track time before pushing for a spot in Q2 – and on top of that deal with the change in riding conditions between P1 and P2 and the multiple stops in the middle of the second session. We are all relieved to hear that Pol Espargaró is conscious. All in all, it was a tricky day. Fabio did well to keep his concentration – also when Marc Marquez was in his slipstream multiple times in P2 – and still set a 1‘38.015s lap at the end. On the other hand, it was a tough first day for Franky. He had a nasty crash in P1 in damp conditions, but luckily, he was OK to continue riding. He didn‘t have the speed he was looking for during the time attack due to a lack of rear grip. Tomorrow‘s FP session will be crucial. We will use the 30 minutes to the fullest to prepare for qualifying and our first ever Sprint.
I think we are working in a good way. I’m feeling much calmer than I was last year. Even if I don’t feel like I’m at my 100%, I feel like we are working in the proper way, and we are being precise. I’m in P6, and only 0.3s behind. I think we can make a step for tomorrow. I feel okay on the bike, and looking at the data, we’re not in a bad situation. We need to keep going and figure out where we can improve.
It was an interesting day. It was a new experience to have a one-hour practice in the afternoon. Unfortunately, today I struggled with the rear grip. We have some modifications in mind that should improve that. Let’s see if I can use them well tomorrow.
More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:
Red flag impacted Friday in Portugal for Repsol Honda Team
A complicated afternoon session saw Joan Mir and Marc Marquez work to keep their places in the combined top ten, ultimately missing out by just a few tenths in the hyper-competitive MotoGP field.
The sound of MotoGP returned in earnest as round one of the 2023 World Championship season got underway in Portimao. A return to Europe for the first race of the year, fans were already lining the stands of the circuit as the premier class rolled out for Free Practice 1 just before 11:00 Local Time.
Spits of rain in the morning session would send the majority of the field back to their garages after only a few laps as they waited for the conditions to improve. After setup adjustments to suit the conditions, both Joan Mir and Marc Marquez returned to the track to make the most of the remaining track time.
Ending the morning in second place with a 1’38.827, the newest addition to the Repsol Honda Team was able to impress immediately as he led a strong session for the Honda RC213V. In the afternoon, Mir was again able to end the day as the fastest Honda – claiming 12th place with a best lap of 1’38.394. Just over 0.1s saw the double World Champion miss out on a combined top ten spot on his Honda Grand Prix debut, the #36 poised to fight for one of the two transfer spots in Q1. A crash during Free Practice 2 saw Mir walk away without serious consequence.
Marc Marquez’s day followed a similar pattern as he finished the morning inside the top ten before improving his time by over a second to a 1’38.419. Unfortunately, his improvements were not enough and finished the day as the 14th fastest rider, a harmless fall in the final minutes of the session ending his last chance of improvements.
Saturday will not only see the classic battle for pole position, but also the debut of the MotoGP Sprint – a shortened 12 lap race where riders will battle for half points.
“We were able to improve a lot from the test to today and I was able to feel a lot better with the bike. I think we left something more out there on track, so I am not fully satisfied. With our second tyre we weren’t able to make the most of it, but the team and I understand what we need to do in the future to improve this. That’s important. Of course, it’s a shame because we were having a great day. Tomorrow is a new day and I think we have a good chance to go through Q1.”
“All of the Honda riders were quite close today. I was feeling quite good with the bike today and our goal today was to get into Q2 and we just missed that. It will be an intense day tomorrow because everyone is riding very well and at the limit after the test. It wasn’t the best day overall today, it was a standard day, but I am aiming to make a step tomorrow and be a bit faster. The crash I had today was one of those crashes where you know it will come, I was braking too late after Turn 2 – I tried to save it but it didn’t work.”
More, from a press release issued by Mooney VR46 Racing Team:
MARINI AND BEZZECCHI IMMEDIATELY FAST AT PORTIMAO
The riders of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team sign the access to tomorrow’s Q2 at the end of the first free practice session of the year
Portimao (Portugal), March 24th 2023 – Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi continue in the slipstream of the excellent sensations of the pre-season and close the first day of free practices at the Portuguese GP (Sunday, 02.00 pm local time) respectively in fourth and eighth place in the combined time sheets. On the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Mooney VR46 Racing Team, they both qualified for tomorrow’s Q2 (11.15 am local time).
Third this morning (1’38.922) and in the garage for part of the afternoon session due to the double red flag and the crash in the final stages, Luca sets the time of 1’37.899, a chrono that is only one tenth behind the poleman of the day (Miller, 1’37.709).
Marco is also at ease, fourth in the first free practice (1’39.018) and also the victim of a crash in the FP2, who stops at 1’38.158 and remains attached to the group of very first guys.
LUCA MARINI – 10
Today was a busy day: the second session was very long, but we tried to stay focused despite the interruptions. I’m happy that Pol (Espargaro) is OK, the crash was very strong. I am satisfied in any case of the day, we are competitive. I’m surprised, the track had more rubber in the test than today, but we were faster. Tomorrow I expect an important time for the pole position, we will try to stay as far ahead as possible for the sprint and the race.
MARCO BEZZECCHI – 72
I didn’t want to crash, I made a small mistake at turn nine, but I’m happy. With the M I’m strong, but also with the S I have a good feeling. Compared to the test, I made a step forward on the first half of the track, turns 3, 5 and 8, while I struggle in T3 and T4. Tomorrow in the sprint we will begin to understand the real values and I hope to be able to fight.
More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:
MOTOGP KICKS OFF IN PORTUGAL
THE FIRST WEEKEND OF THE 2023 SEASON GETS OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT FOR APRILIA
MAVERICK VIÑALES AND ALEIX ESPARGARÓ GO STRAIGHT THROUGH TO Q2 IN PORTIMAO WITH THE SECOND AND NINTH TIMES
The MotoGP season opener was decidedly positive for the Aprilia Racing Team. With the new practice and weekend format, the two sessions on Friday already decide who goes straight through to the second qualifying session (Q2), which is where the first four rows of the starting grid are determined. Those positions will then be valid for both the race on Sunday and the Sprint Race which will be held on Saturday afternoon.
Maverick and Aleix confirmed their good sensations from the winter tests, tackling the two sessions today consistently maintaining a high pace. Stably at the top end of the standings throughout the two sessions they sealed their performance with a fast lap that placed them solidly in the top ten. Maverick finished in second place just 40 thousandths of a second behind the leader and Aleix placed ninth at +0.544.
This takes both riders straight through to Q2, the qualifying session for the leaders.
“I am extremely pleased because I had even better sensations than in the tests, which were already positive. It was clearly not easy for me to go back out on the track after Pol’s accident, but I’ve been doing this job for a long time and I know that these things happen. Fortunately, it seems that serious consequences were avoided. Having someone like Doctor Charte taking care of us riders is truly a great help. Tomorrow, we’ll focus entirely on the qualifiers because I’m convinced that the results of the Sprint Race will depend greatly on the start. With a good spot on the grid, we’ll be able to make a play for it.”
“This was not an easy result. There was a lot of work behind the scenes. We picked back up with the good sensations we had in the tests and we need to keep going in this direction. Before starting this morning I was a bit nervous, as often happens on the first day of a new season, but I’m at ease now after verifying our real level. I was fast on the fast lap but times were more than satisfactory on the long run too. As for testing the tyres, I have a pretty clear idea about the choice for the rear, whereas a lot will depend on the temperature for the front.”
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:
TAKAAKI NAKAGAI COMPLETES THE FIRST PRACTICE DAY IN PORTIMAO
LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider Takaaki Nakagami has completed the first official day of practice at the Autodromo do Algarve, finishing 15th in the standings.
It’s been a very demanding Friday as weather conditions in the morning and red flags in the afternoon have jeopardized and delayed the initial plans.
The Japanese will have to go through Q1 tomorrow, but he’s made a step forward and feels comfortable on the bike, and Takaaki and the crew are working hard to reduce the gap (1.1 far from the first).
Takaaki Nakagami 15th
“We made a step forward after the test some days ago, and I’ve felt comfortable on the bike. There are still some areas to improve, but I’m positive because we’ve already seen some progression. I’m curious to see how the new Saturday format works for us; let’s keep working and pushing to reach our goals”.
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:
ALEX RINS COMPLETES THE FIRST PRACTICE DAY IN PORTIMAO
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Alex Rins has completed the first official day of practice at the Autodromo do Algarve, ending 13th in the standings.
It’s been a very demanding Friday as weather conditions during the morning and red flags in the afternoon have jeopardized and delayed the initial plans.
Alex Rins will have to go through Q1 tomorrow, but the rider is closer to the top, and he and the crew are working unceasingly to reduce the current gap (0.7 far from the first).
Alex Rins 13th
“Overall, we’ve improved. We are not far from the guys at the front; however, we still need to work on the race pace, the grip, and some other details. The main thing is that we are constantly taking small steps, which means we are working in the right direction, but we must be patient because there is still work to do”.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Who predicted that?! Miller rolls out a new lap record to head the first Friday charge to Q2
The riders heading straight to Q2 are decided as Miller sets a new lap record, Bagnaia starts strong and Marquez loses a cat and mouse with Quartararo
Friday, 24 March 2023
Another two tenths have come off the fastest ever lap of the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, courtesy of none other than Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). “Thriller” lived up to his name to come out on top, defeating Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) by less than half a tenth. Third goes to the previous record holder at Portimao, reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), as rollercoaster Day 1 sets the new era in motion.
Light rain in the opening stages of the session saw the majority of the grid watch the opening laps from the pitlane, but with about half an hour to go, the rain cleared and it was go time. A flurry of fast laps in the closing stages of the session decided the order, and an incredible lap came in from Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) to secure top spot.
Meanwhile Repsol Honda – aka Marc Marquez and Joan Mir – did some formation flying, and by the end of the session Mir secured second with some solid early signs. The Mooney VR46 Racing Team duo of Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi also pushed hard in the morning, taking third and fourth.
The top Aprilia was Viñales in sixth, ahead of Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), who led the session up until the closing stages. Key title contenders Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Bagnaia had a relatively quiet session and finished P1 locked together in eighth and ninth, with Marc Marquez forced to settle for P10.
It was a stop start afternoon session with a first Red Flag due to systems issue at the track, but as the clock ran down the times continued to tumble. Martin set a mid-session banker, the first rider to get below the previous race weekend record, and with the pace set, the rest of the grid chased down the Spaniard’s lap time. The riders were pushing hard, including the 2022 Champion Bagnaia, who also had a high-speed moment, saving it heroically on his elbow as he hurtled through the fast-flowing final corner.
With 15 minutes to go, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) went top, before a second Red Flag caused another stoppage due to a crash for Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3). The Spaniard was taken to Faro hospital for further examination and more details can be found here.
Once the session was back underway, soft tyres were thrown in and another flurry of fast laps followed, as the riders competed to get into that all-important top 10 for a secure spot in Q2. With eight minutes to go, Pecco took his number-1-plated Ducati to the top with an incredible 1:37.856, but that was all she wrote for the Italian following his stellar lap as he swiftly retired from the session with an issue. That left a target, and the timing screens began to light up with just two minutes remaining. Two riders bettered Bagnaia by the flag: Miller and Viñales, who both flew into the 1:37 club to put themselves in prime positions heading into Saturday.
That left Bagnaia third ahead of Marini who bounced back into fourth, with Martin forced to settle for fifth. Quartararo takes sixth on Day 1… and had some company from Marc Marquez in the afternoon. Reminiscent of a few moments in recent seasons, the number 93 was locked onto the number 20 for a little while, and got caught out. Marquez went down at Turn 3 and lost his chance to improve further, finding himself out of Q1 but rider perfectly ok.
Behind Quartararo in sixth then comes not Marquez but Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), with Bezzecchi next up. Aleix Espargaro goes through in ninth, with the last rider in Q2 for now proving Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team)…. just! Alex Marquez, Joan Mir, Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) and Marc Marquez will now head for Q1.
Cold tyres caught out Bezzecchi and Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) early after the session was restarted. Both riders were up and ok, and back on track for the rest of the session. Miguel Oliveira (CryptoData RNF MotoGP™ Team) suffered a highside, rider ok, and teammate Raul Fernandez also crashed in the afternoon, rider ok.
Riders through to Q2:
Miller, Viñales, Bagnaia, Marini, Martin, Quartararo, Zarco, Bezzecchi, Aleix Espargaro and… Bastianini! Find the full timesheets below and join us for super Saturday with FP at 10:10, qualifying from 10:50 and then some history made at 15:00 as the first MotoGP™ Sprint begins!
Don’t miss: the MotoGP™ Circuit App!
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After a successful debut at the 2022 Valencia GP, MotoGP™ Circuit now rolls out across the blockbuster 2023 calendar!
Moto2™: Acosta deposes Dixon on Day 1
The tale of Day 1 at the Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal was a duel: Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) vs Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team). The Spaniard ended the day top by less than a tenth in the end, with Dixon second before a couple of tenths back to Filip Salač (QJMOTOR Gresini Moto2™) in third.
Elf Marc VDS Racing Team’s Sam Lowes and Tony Arbolino complete the top five, both also quick in testing, but it’s advantage Acosta and Dixon so far on the Algarve.
The top 14 go straight to Q2, see who makes the cut in P3 at 9:25 (GMT) on Saturday. The provisional line-up after P1 and P2 can be found below in the combined times.
ICYMI: 2022 Championship runner up Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is missing the first round through injury following a crash in training. He’s not being replaced. Rookie – and reigning Moto3™ Champion – Izan Guevara (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) is also sidelined following recent surgery, replaced by Jordi Torres. Alex Escrig (Forward Team) was declared unfit following a final medical check on Friday morning after his crash in the Jerez test. He is replaced by David Sanchis.
Holgado heads Moreira in Moto3™
Day 1 of the Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal saw Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) top the timesheets from Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI), the latter proving a popular prediction for Champion this season amongst the MotoGP™ field and off to good start. Third goes to David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports), making it three sophomores in the top three.
Veteran Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) was fourth, with Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) completing the top five. Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse) headed the Honda machinery in P6.
The top 14 go straight to Q2, to find out who they are make sure to tune into P3 for the lightweight class from 8:40 (GMT) to 9:00. For now, the combined timesheets are below for a look at the current state of play.
More, from a press release issued by Ducati:
Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini finish Friday free practice for the Portuguese GP in third and tenth place respectively
Day 1 of practices for the Portuguese GP, the 2023 MotoGP World Championship opening round, scheduled this weekend at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, saw Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini finish with the third and tenth fastest times, respectively.
The Ducati Lenovo Team riders thus gain direct access to the first Q2 of the season. In fact, following the new format, MotoGP riders took part in two practice sessions today – Practice 1 of 45 minutes this morning and 1 hour of Practice 2 this afternoon – which decided the top ten that will take part directly in the second qualifying session tomorrow morning.
After finishing with the ninth fastest time in Practice 1, Bagnaia closed as the third quickest in the afternoon, despite a session full of unforeseen events. After a prolonged interruption due to a blackout of the time screens, Pecco returned to the track for his first “time attack”, which he had to abort after almost suffering a crash. The World Champion returned to the track for a second attempt, interrupted by a second red flag following Pol Espargaro’s crash. Despite this, the Italian rider still made the most of the soft tyre as he secured third place in 1:37.856.
Enea Bastianini, who made his race debut with the factory Borgo Panigale-based squad today, also managed to close with the tenth fastest time in 1:38.256, 547 thousandths from the top of the combined standings.
Francesco Bagnaia (#1, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 3rd (1:37.856)
“Our first practice day for 2023 went well: with used tyres, we are quite competitive, and even in the time attack, we managed to set a good lap time. In the first attempt, I risked falling at the last corner, while with the second soft tyre, I managed to close only one lap before the red flag came out following Pol’s crash. In any case, we can be happy and ready to face the first Sprint Race of the season.”
Enea Bastianini (#23, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 10th (1:38.256)
“It was difficult to concentrate this afternoon, but I managed. The last two time attacks went well, although I was expecting more. I still have to figure out how to get the most from the new bike, but I’m learning its strengths. For now, I am satisfied with the progress made during the day, and we will try to make more tomorrow.”
In addition to qualifying tomorrow morning starting at 11am local time, MotoGP riders will also face their first race of the weekend, the Sprint Race beginning at 3pm, Portugal time, over a 12-lap distance.