Zarco tames the rollercoaster as MotoGP™ meets Portimão
The Frenchman tops the timesheets from Viñales and Aleix Espargaro after a flying start – almost literally – on Friday
Friday, 20 November 2020
Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) is now the owner of the fastest ever two-wheel lap of the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, the Frenchman putting in a 1:39.417 to top Day 1 of the Grande Premio MEO de Portugal. Second went the way of Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as he ended the day just over a tenth off, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) impressing to put the Noale factory in third by the end of play.
The day began with the home hero on top as Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) set the pace in the extended 70-minute FP1 session with the fastest-ever Algarve International Circuit two-wheel lap: a 1:40.122. Portugal’s first premier class winner had close company, however, heading Viñales by 0.040. Aleix Espargaro completed the top three as Aprilia got off to a solid start.
It was Oliveira who led the opening stages, before Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) took over at the summit with the Hondas of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) sitting P3 and P4 with 50 minutes to go, before Viñales slotted into P3.
The Yamaha man then took over at the top with a 1:41.427 and with a fitting 36 minutes left on the clock, 2020 World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) showed some early cards to take second. It was close from the off, eight tenths covering the top 14 with just under half an hour left.
Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) was the next man to take over, before Quartararo then became the first rider to dip into the 1:40s with a 1:40.877. Improvements were being fired in across the board late on though, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) leapfrogging Aleix Espargaro for third too.
With two minutes to go, the goalposts were moved by Viñales once again, Oliveira and Aleix Espargaro then taking second and third respectively. Lorenzo Savadori, who has experience in Portimão from his superbike days, then made it two Aprilias in the top three as the Italian went P2.
On his final flying lap though, Oliveira returned to the summit and made it a Portuguese number one in Portuguese FP1. Viñales ended the morning in second ahead of Aleix Espargaro and an impressive showing from Savadori, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the top five ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Mir, Quartararo, Nakagami and Bradl, the German rider locking out the top 10.
All the times tumbled in the afternoon, although some shuffles were more drastic than others. Before many laps were ridden in anger though, the first MotoGP™ crash of the weekend came courtesy of Rins. The Team Suzuki Ecstar rider was down at Turn 8, the Spaniard perfectly ok but that not an ideal start to the afternoon.
Aleix Espargaro led the early stages with a 1:40.969, less than a second away from Oliveira’s FP1 pace, before Zarco got down to a 1:40.723 to sit top with just under an hour to go thanks to his best time of the weekend. Bradl, as he had in the opening session, then went fastest. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Iker Lecuona’s replacement Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Tech3) were the other riders to have already gone quicker in FP2 with 50 minutes to go, but the shuffle only continued from there on.
By 11 minutes to go, just 0.8 seconds split the leading 18 riders. The final push began as Miller launched himself to P1 with a 1:39.895, Nakagami and Mir making moves as well, with the top four covered by less than a tenth as the clock counted down.
Zarco then struck to take to the top. The Frenchman went a tenth and a half faster than the field before Miller improved again to cut that gap, Bradl got back up to P3, and then Viñales wrestled back top spot with a 1:39.664. That didn’t last long though as Zarco took back over by nearly a quarter of a second, the Frenchman stamping some authority on the timesheets.
It was a scintillating end to the session and by the end of the final charge for the top, Zarco held on and everyone had improved. Viñales and Aleix Espargaro were second and third as they had been in FP1, however, with Quartararo moving up to fourth overall.
Brad Binder jumped up from P20 to complete a top five split by 0.280 seconds, ahead of the reigning World Champion as Mir finished P6 on Day 1. He was just 0.009 seconds ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) though, with Pol Espargaro, Miller and Morbidelli completing the top 10.
Bradl missed out by just 0.021 despite his impressive showing, with Nakagami and Oliveira shuffled down to P11 and P12 respectively by the end of play.
They will be joining Rins – who ended Friday in P17 – as some of the most eager to get back out in FP3 to try and move up the order. More track time will likely mean more shuffles though, so there’s plenty time left yet! Tune in for FP3 at 9:55 local time (GMT) to see who’s heading through, before qualifying will then decide the grid from 14:10.
MotoGP™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Johann Zarco* – Esponsorama Racing – Ducati – 1:39.417
2 Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.119
3 Aleix Espargaro* – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – Aprilia – +0.228
4 Fabio Quartararo* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – +0.275
5 Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – KTM – +0.280
*Independent Team rider
Marini heads Lowes, Bastianini in the top five as the contenders rise to the challenge on Friday
The top three in the standings make their mark on Day 1, with Bezzecchi in the top ten too
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) shot first in the final Moto2™ battle of the season as the Italian topped the timesheets on Day 1 of the Grande Premio MEO de Portugal – but the man right on his tail was another title challenger. Still riding through the pain barrier following his huge FP3 crash at Valencia, Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) nevertheless took second on Friday, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) completing the top three. Championship leader Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) was fifth quickest, with fourth in the standings, Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) ninth on the Algarve.
Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing) was quickest in FP1 with a 1:43.740; only five riders able to break the 1:44 barrier in the intermediate class’ first run out. Less than six hundredths separated the top three though, with Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) second and Marini starting the day in third.
Riders took their time in adapting to the circuit as Augusto Fernandez sat on P1 for the majority of the session, the EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider and Di Giannantonio the only men under the 1:45 bracket in the early stages.
However, with 15 minutes remaining the pace of the session picked up with the likes of Aron Canet (Pull&Bear Team Moto2) and Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) getting themselves into the top three. P1 then exchanged hands multiple times in the closing stages, with Marini taking it first before Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) fought back with a flat 1:44. The other Championship contenders then got in on the fun as Lowes got into the top three, before Bezzecchi and Bastianiniboth temporarily sat in P1 with little over three minutes remaining.
Ramirez’s last flying lap put him in P1 as he took the chequered flag.
Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) crashed at Turn 2.
As FP2 revved into life, Jorge Martin’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) session was brought to an abrupt end. His bike was spitting smoke on his out-lap and it was a disastrous start for the Spaniard, who ended up missing the whole session. Lowes was then the first to drop the pace as he went 0.012 seconds ahead of FP1 pacesetter Ramirez, before teammate Augusto Fernandez, Aron Canet (Pull&Bear Aspar Team Moto2) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – the latter later a crasher in the session – proved the other riders in the top 10 to go faster than they did in FP1 almost straight away.
Marini then took to the top, and that’s where the Italian would remain after the shuffle. A herculean effort from Lowes saw him overhaul it before Marini hit back, but the Brit responded in kind. Bastianini then took P3, and three minutes left, the top four in the Championship sat 1-2-3-4…
It didn’t quite remain that way in the session or the combined timesheets – which were the same bar Martin missing FP2 and slotting into P23 overall – but not too far off. Marini improved once more to guarantee himself P1, with Lowes forced to settle for second but an incredibly impressive second. Baldassarri stole third late on and Gardner fourth, with Bastianini completing the top five.
Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) took sixth on Friday ahead of the Speed Up duo of ‘Diggia’ and his teammate Jorge Navarro, all that shuffling Bezzecchi down to ninth overall. Rookie of the Year contender and Valencia podium finisher Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) took tenth, with Fernandez, Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Valencia polesitter Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and FP1 pacesetter Ramirez locking out the top 14 on Friday.
That leaves Roberts and Martin as two key names looking for more, although as the field get more and more track time, it’s likely another roll of the dice will come on Saturday morning. Tune in for FP3 at 10:55 (GMT), before qualifying from 15:10.
Moto2™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Luca Marini – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex – 1:42.941
2 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex – +0.182
3 Lorenzo Baldassarri – Flexbox HP 40 – Kalex – +0.198
4 Remy Gardner – ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team – Kalex – +0.281
5 Enea Bastianini – Italtrans Racing Team – Kalex – +0.316
Arenas opens pivotal Portugal weekend on top
The Championship leader also leads the timesheets as action opens on the Algarve, with Arbolino eighth and Ogura ninth
Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) began the Grande Premio MEO de Portugal in the best possible position: on top. The Spaniard made a late lunge to end the day with two tenths in hand over newly-crowned Rookie of the Year Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completing the top three. Arenas’ title rivals were in eighth and ninth in reverse order to the standings as Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) edged ahead of Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia).
Moto3™ were the first machines of the day to test out the stunning Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, and in FP1 it was Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) out the blocks quickest. The Spaniard set a 1:48.896 to finish 0.158 seconds ahead of Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), with Championship leader Arenas completing the top three as he began the day with some promising pace. Masia crashed at Turn 14, and Fenati at the final corner.
Fenati had been 1.2 seconds quicker than his competitors with just over 10 minutes to go, before that final corner get-off, but Masia hit back to go quickest. Fenati nevertheless improved on his last lap to get within two tenths, however.
Behind Arenas came Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) to complete the top five.
Arbolino began his day in P11, eight tenths off Masia, whereas Ogura ended the opening Portimao session in P26, 1.8 seconds off P1.
All 31 lightweight class riders were able to improve thanks to another extended session. To show quite how much they improved, FP1 pacesetter Jaume Masia slipped back down to fifth despite going four tenths of a second quicker. The speed found by everyone in the field guarantees the FP2 timesheets are the same as the combined timesheets, with Arenas finding a second to take to the top – the first Moto3™ rider to set a sub 1:48 lap around the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez ends the day fourth on the timesheets after giving younger brother Adrian Fernandez, replacing the injured Filip Salač in the Rivacold Snipers Team this weekend, a tour of Portimão as the pair tried to get up to speed. The younger Fernandez ended the day in P26 as a solid debut.
Masia was fifth, 0.056 seconds clear of Leopard Racing teammate Dennis Foggia, with Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) just 0.003 further back in seventh.
Arbolino was next up in eight, but again the margins were tiny as the man third in the Championship was just 0.002 off P7, and fellow title contender Ogura was ninth by virtue of only 0.034. He moved back up the timesheets in a big way, and didn’t suffer a repeat of a huge wobble he’d had at the final corner in the morning.
Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team) completed the top ten despite a crash in FP1, ahead of fellow faller Romano Fenati. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert Prüstel GP) and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) complete the riders within the automatic Q2 graduation zone after Day 1.
Will the deck shuffle again on Day 2? Tune in at 9:00 (GMT) to find out in FP3, before qualifying from 12:35!
Moto3™: the five fastest on Friday
1 Albert Arenas – Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3 – Honda 1:47.987
2 Jeremy Alcoba – Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 – Honda +0.201
3 Tatsuki Suzuki – SIC58 Squadra Corse – Honda +0.374
4 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM +0.385
5 Jaume Masia – Leopard Racing – Honda +0.519
More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM Tech3:
Oliveira opens home GP with P1 in FP1 – Kallio comes back to racing
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira started the first day at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve with a 1:40.122, which was the fastest time of the extended FP1 session. Later on, the Portuguese home hero was leading the way at the start of FP2 as well and improved his time by 0.176 seconds, but eventually concluded Friday in 13th, just 0.529 seconds from the top of the ultra-competitive premier class field.
Yet, Mika Kallio is back to racing this weekend after more than one year of MotoGP absence, replacing Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider Iker Lecuona, who was tested positive on Covid-19 last week. The KTM test rider lowered his pace from Free Practice one to Free Practice two this afternoon by more than two seconds. While finding back to his rhythm aboard the KTM RC16, he is eager to make further steps tomorrow in FP3 at 9.55 local time (10.55 CET).
“We had a good first day here in Portimao. I think from the morning to the afternoon, we were able to set up the bike better. There are still a couple of things, we can improve for sure, as this is a new track. From my side, I feel very good on the bike, I’m enjoying every lap on this track. This afternoon we wanted to save one extra soft tyre for tomorrow morning, so I think we could not get the maximum out of our package, but I’m still happy with this opening day.”
“Before I arrived, I knew that it’s going to be a tough day for many reasons, first of all of course learning a new track. I have never been here and it took some time to understand it, plus it’s one of the most complicated circuits I’ve ever been, although it’s really nice and I like it a lot. But it’s not easy and it takes time. So, the first practice was mostly for this and trying to learn the bike again, understanding the new tyres. My last race was more than one year ago, so we didn’t expect that much from the first day, but somehow, we improved at the end of FP2 and also my feeling was slightly better. We are still far from the fastest guys, but at least we saw, that we are finding the correct way. On some points, I’m losing quite a lot in braking, so I need to find out how I can get out everything from the front tyre, because this is the place we are losing. There are many things to do for tomorrow, so let’s see what happens.”
More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:
MIXED START TO 2020 MOTOGP SEASON FINALE FOR MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP
Portimão (Portugal), 20th November 2020
GRAND PRIX OF PORTUGAL
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi entered the 2020 MotoGP World Championship finale in full attack mode but obtained mixed results. They secured 2nd and 21st place respectively in the combined free practice results.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales had a flying start to the Grande Prémio de Portugal today at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. He continued his positive FP1 groove in this afternoon‘s session, also earning second place in the FP2 and the combined Free Practice standings. Valentino Rossi used the two sessions to the fullest to work on the balance of his bike and ended the first day in Portimão in 21st place.
Viñales already had a good feeling in FP1 and continued the positive momentum in the afternoon. He concentrated on getting to know the Portimão track and perfecting his bike‘s set-up for Sunday‘s race. The number-12 rider put his package to the test when there were 15 minutes left on the clock. What followed was a tug of war between him, Jack Miller, and Johann Zarco for the number one spot. They switched positions multiple times. In the end, the Yamaha rider completed the session in second place with a 1’39.536s, set on lap 29/29, 0.119s from first.
Rossi continued working on the balance of his bike throughout FP2. He used the second 70-minute session to get to grips with the technical Portimão track. Trying to push, The Doctor had a small tumble in Turn 4 but was OK to continue the session. He arrived back at the box with just over 15 minutes to go and hopped aboard his second bike. He went on to set a 1‘41.279s on lap 27/28, which was 0.667s quicker than his fastest lap of the morning, but it wasn‘t quite enough to improve his place in the timesheets. He wrapped up the first day in 21st position in the FP2 and the combined free practice standings, 1.862s from the front.
This track is completely different from Valencia last week, or any other circuit for that matter. Maverick already really enjoyed this track during the test, and on his M1 his enjoyment increased even more. Valentino on the other hand didn‘t have a good feeling with the bike all day, and matters weren‘t helped by his small crash in Turn 4. There is still quite a lot of work to do. This circuit is technically challenging and we don‘t have any prior experience or data to go on, so we will be analysing today‘s data very carefully to assess in which areas we can make further steps. Since we had some extra track time today, we used some of it to try all the tyre options and also some things we couldn‘t test earlier, already with an eye on next year. This helps us make up for the fact that we don‘t have an end-of-season test like we usually have in Valencia.
This is an awesome track! It‘s so good! I‘m enjoying it a lot. Honestly, I didn‘t care about the lap times, I was just trying to enjoy the experience. For sure, the bike is working well, and we are riding well on the track. It was good to try all the tyres today to understand and have a sense of which direction to follow tomorrow, and we‘ll see what happens. Everyone is fast. The first 15 riders are in the 1‘39s, so everything is very tight. We‘re all on the limit. Anti-wheelie will be important, so we will try to make another step there.
The track is fantastic. It‘s different from the other tracks. With MotoGP bikes it‘s difficult because you are going so fast, but it‘s beautiful and a lot of fun to ride. We tried some different things today, but in the end we didn‘t find a real step. With my first bike, which had a closer to normal setting, I was a bit faster. But, unfortunately, I lost the front in Turn 4. I crashed, but I‘m okay. But after that I had to go out with the other bike, and I didn‘t have the same feeling, so I wasn‘t fast enough. We had tried to improve rear grip, but I lost speed on corner entry. What we gained we lost in another part. Tomorrow we will stick to a more standard setting and will try to understand if we can be stronger.
More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:
APRILIA IN GREAT SHAPE IN THE FIRST SESSIONS AT PORTIMÃO
ALEIX FINISHES THE DAY WITH THE THIRD BEST TIME, SAVADORI IMPROVING
The Portimão roller coaster proved to be ideal hunting grounds for Aprilia, thanks to a super-fast Espargaró and a Savadori who is clearly improving. While in the morning session, Aleix and Lorenzo were able to take advantage of the experience gained in the tests on this circuit, the times quickly got better and better. The incisiveness demonstrated in the afternoon FP2 session was also important, where Aleix finished third with a gap of just 2 tenths.
Lorenzo’s approach was also positive, with his feeling astride the Italian V4 improving by the minute. After an outstanding fourth place this morning, Savadori hones his performance in the afternoon as well, finishing just 6 tenths behind the best time.
“In FP1, we clearly took advantage of the data from the test, but with two sessions that long, the other riders came up to speed quickly. This is why I’m very pleased with the overall third place time, because being ahead in FP2 as well means that we really did a good job. In addition to the flying lap, we were also competitive on used tyres, which is a very important aspect because tyre wear in the race will be crucial, especially in the last ten laps. Tomorrow I’ll battle to finish in the top 6. I think it is a result that both the team and I deserve.”
“A good day. My confidence on the RS-GP is increasing session after session and racing on a track I’m familiar with definitely helps. You can see my lack of miles in this category when I have to push to the limit. Despite some good times, I still don’t have the perfect feeling when I need to squeeze out 100%. The clearest limitations are the same as Valencia. We need to keep working to try to take full advantage of this weekend.”
More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:
Work begins in the Algarve
A new addition to the MotoGP calendar saw Stefan Bradl challenge for the top spots as Alex Marquez worked to build a base for the remainder of the weekend.
With extended Free Practice sessions at the new-to-MotoGP Portimao circuit, Friday proved to be a busy day for the Repsol Honda Team. Constant sunshine on the newly resurfaced track made for ideal conditions as the MotoGP World Championship builds to end the year on a high. Initial feedback from across the paddock was positive towards the new venue, riders trying to tame ‘the rollercoaster’.
Having had just one test session aboard a road bike, Alex Marquez used the start of the day to acquaint himself with the 4.6-kilometer-long track aboard his Repsol Honda RC213V. 15th and 1.1 seconds behind the fastest time gave Alex and his team a good base to work from as Free Practice 1 came to an end. It proved to be a busy afternoon for Alex Marquez, completing 33 laps, the most of any rider in the afternoon session, as the MotoGP rookie worked to improve his pace and assess the tyre options for the weekend. Ultimately Alex ended the day in 18th overall but within a second of the top time and half a second from the top ten.
Stefan Bradl started the day in tremendous form, leading FP1 for a time and being among the first riders to set a 1’40 lap. This was not fleeting speed however, Bradl backing up his performance with improved pace in FP2 as he again competed for a top five place until the end of the session. Closing out the day with a best time of 1’39.909, Bradl concludes Friday in 11th place and just 0.021s away from the top ten.
The premier class will be back out on track for Free Practice 3 at 09:55 Local Time on Saturday, November 21, before the last qualifying shootout of 2020 at 14:10 Local Time.
“From the test before we were able to learn the layout of the track but when you come here on a MotoGP bike it’s completely different. All the markers for turning and braking are new, and we spent a lot of FP1 working on finding the correct line because we did not really have any references. It’s a fun circuit with some difficult sections to master, but I enjoyed it today. With four front and four rear tyre options there was a lot of work to do, but I feel good after today even if our position isn’t the best. For tomorrow we need to make a step in the morning.”
“I got up to speed very quickly and had a good feeling on the bike. We had two strong sessions today while trying to understand the options we have for the weekend. I’m happy with how today went but tomorrow it will be important, I think we can aim to get into Q2. It was a good feeling to see P1 on my pit board, the feeling and speed has improved with each weekend. It’s a very special track, unique and a lot of points to make a difference.”
More, from a press release issued by Ducati:
Portuguese GP. Andrea Dovizioso ends with the seventh-fastest time the first day of free practices at Portimão. Nineteenth Danilo Petrucci.
Andrea Dovizioso sets the seventh fastest time overall at the end of the first day of free practices at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve;
Danilo Petrucci closes today’s two sessions in nineteenth place;
Johann Zarco sets the fastest time on Friday with the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Esponsorama Racing team.
The MotoGP riders were back on track today for the first day of free practices of the final Grand Prix of the 2020 season, the Portuguese GP, which will be held for the first time this Sunday at the spectacular Autódromo Internacional do Algarve.
Andrea Dovizioso, twelfth at the end of FP1, was able to break the 1:40 barrier in the FP2 session, ending Friday’s free practices with the seventh time overall in 1:39.741, just 340 thousandths off the best time set by Johann Zarco on the Ducati Desmosedici GP machine of the Esponsorama Racing team.
Danilo Petrucci closed the first day in Portimão with the nineteenth fastest time in 1:40.547, set during the last minutes of FP2 this afternoon. The rider from Terni completed a total of 54 laps in the two 70-minute sessions available today, during which he focused mainly on finding the ideal setup for his bike, leaving tomorrow morning’s FP3 to improve his lap time further and find a spot directly into Q2.
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 1:39,732 (7th)
“It has been a hectic day: Portimão is a particular and narrow track, which does not allow you to make the most of the MotoGP engine. We struggled to find a good setup right from the start. After several laps, my feeling with the bike has finally improved, but there are still some aspects we need to focus on to be ready for Sunday’s race. The goal now will also be to understand how the tyres will behave on this track.
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1:40.547 (19th)
“It was a very long and demanding day: we did many tests, but I’m still not satisfied with the feeling I have with the bike on this track. We haven’t yet found the right way to go, but after this first day, we have collected many data to work on in the next sessions. Tomorrow in FP3, we will also focus on trying our time attack”.
The Ducati Team riders will be back on track tomorrow at 9:55 am local time (GMT +0.00) for the FP3 session, while qualifying for the Portuguese GP will be held from 2:10 pm, at the end of FP4.
More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:
TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR PREPARE FOR FINAL PUSH IN PORTUGAL
Combined practice times:
Joan Mir: 6th – 1’39.732 (+ 0.315)
Alex Rins: 17th – 1’40.213 (+ 0.796)
The first day of action at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao provided thrilling footage and close times as the riders adapted to the rollercoaster-style track in southern Portugal. The sessions were extended to allow more time for the riders to get to grips with the complex circuit.
The vast majority of FP1 was spent adapting to the track and learning its unique undulations and demanding layout. Both Joan Mir and Alex Rins got on well during the session, and the pair put in long runs on their way to seventh and 11th places respectively.
As all the riders started to get used to the circuit, the times began to plummet in FP2. Rins had a small crash at Turn 8 at the beginning of the session and he was thankfully uninjured. Amazingly, as time went on, the Top 18 riders were covered by one second – making for a very exciting but tricky afternoon. Mir and Rins continued to learn, working with different tyre options and settings to try and optimise the set-up ahead of tomorrow’s all important qualifying. With a few minutes to go in the session, both Team Suzuki Ecstar riders were in the Top 10 but as times came down further, Rins got bumped down the order to 17th on combined. However, Mir held on to a provisional place in Q2 with sixth on combined.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“It’s been an interesting day being at a circuit we’ve never competed at before. We’ve been collecting a lot of information and data, and the riders have been familiarising themselves with the track. Joan put in some good lap times and had strong pace. And despite having a small crash, Alex also did a good job of collecting information and getting plenty of laps in. We’ll be working tonight to see what we need to change for tomorrow, and then we’re ready to get back out there and try our best.”
“Considering it’s the first day at the track, I feel pretty good. We’ve worked a lot on the settings and the electronics. It’s quite difficult to adjust the bike to suit a circuit we’ve never been to before; finding the correct settings took a lot of work. But by the end of the day I felt comfortable and I found good pace, so we’re satisfied with this first day. It’s the same for everyone, so it’s important to be quick as soon as possible and learn fast. I feel quite strong in several places on the track, but there’s always a margin for improvement and I hope to put in a good performance tomorrow.”
“This track is very demanding, but it’s really nice to ride. You have to concentrate really hard because the track has so many different elements, with ups and downs and different cambers and corners, there’s no time to breathe! You need to stay focused and manage it all well. After the crash I felt a bit of pain on my ‘bad’ shoulder, but luckily nothing that some treatment won’t fix. I’m looking forward to riding again tomorrow, and I’ll continue to work hard to find the best settings to fight at the front.”
More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Quartararo and Morbidelli shine in the Portuguese sun
Fabio Quartararo fourth and Franco Morbidelli tenth on final Free Practice Friday of 2020 at Portimão
The Grande Prémio de Portugal, the final round of the 2020 MotoGP season, started under bright sunlight for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team today. Fabio Quartararo ended the first day of action fourth at Algarve International Circuit, a new track on the MotoGP calendar, whilst team-mate Franco Morbidelli was tenth.
Quartararo had a steady start to FP1, using the beginning of the extended session to familiarise himself with the Portimão circuit. Once up to speed, the Frenchman went to the top of the times, but opted not to end the session with a time attack lap. His time of 1min 40.877secs put him eighth in FP1. Fabio spent the first half of FP2 tweaking his set-up, before moving into the top-ten in the second part of the session. Quartararo continued to improve his speed and ended the day fourth with a 1min 39.692secs lap.
Morbidelli was quickly up into the top-four in the opening minutes of FP1, before remaining in the top-ten for the majority of the session. Like his team-mate, Franco also didn’t end FP1 with a time attack. Instead, his 1min 41.167secs lap saw him end the 70 minutes 13th. The Italian also had a good start to FP2, again setting the fourth fastest time in the early minutes, before going quickest with just over 16 minutes left on the clock. At the end of the session Franco had posted the tenth fastest time: 1min 39.888secs.
Tomorrow’s FP3 session for Fabio and Franco will begin at 9.55am local time (5.55pm MYT), with the final MotoGP qualifying session of 2020 due to commence at 2.10pm local time (10.10pm MYT).
It’s a nice feeling here at Portimão and I’m really happy with the initial data that we have collected today; we can see that the bike has good potential at this circuit. We do still have a lot of things to improve, both on the bike and with myself, but I feel happy with fourth today. It’s a difficult track in some places; in particular there are some really tricky corners but it is also a lot of fun and very unique. When you go for the time attack on the downhill section you get an amazing feeling in your stomach. I’m looking forward to tomorrow because we have some things to try in the morning and we’ll see what we can do in qualifying.
First impressions are positive of the Portimão track, it’s really nice and the Portuguese weather is also really good at this time of year. I’m happy to be here riding and the feeling today was getting better lap-by-lap. It is quite a difficult track physically, very demanding on the body, but I was able to improve my time and also refine the bike setup in these two sessions. We tried some different tyre combinations and I think we learned quite a few things to help us put everything together tomorrow to be fast. We were able to get into the top-ten, so it’s definitely been a positive day for us.
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:
TAKA SITS TWELFTH AFTER OPENING DAY AT PORTIMAO
20 November 2020 | Portuguese GP Practice
Takaaki Nakagami had a mixed day as free practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix got underway on the Algarve. Like the majority of the MotoGP field, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider was getting his first taste of action around the Portimao circuit and had contrasting fortunes in Friday’s two extended sessions as he finished just outside the top 10.
In what is the premier class’s inaugural event at the venue, Taka ended up 9th in a closely-fought FP1 in which he tested various settings. The times were ultra-competitive again in FP2 with less than a second covering the top 18 riders, although Taka had to settle for 12th position overall after a fall at turn four early in the session.
Takaaki Nakagami – 12th
“As you can see, today was a busy day because it’s a new track for me with a MotoGP bike. We tried many things during the FP1 session because we had 70 minutes in the morning and afternoon. We tried different compounds on the tyre and got some good feedback. We struggled a little bit in the exits of the corners as most of the corners here are not flat, they are up and down, so it’s difficult to find the best balance of the bike. Little by little we’re getting a better feeling on the bike and it’s shame we had a small crash in FP2, but I’m ok and we’re really looking forward to tomorrow.”
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:
CRUTCHLOW UPBEAT ON PORTIMAO RETURN
20 November 2020 | Portuguese GP Practice
Cal Crutchlow finished day one of the Portuguese Grand Prix in 14th position as the MotoGP class got to grips with Portimao circuit for the first time. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider – who is making his final GP appearance for Lucio Cecchinello’s outfit this weekend – reacquainted himself with the Algarve-based layout, which he last competed at over a decade ago.
Both free practice sessions took place in dry, sunny conditions and both proved to be hugely competitive with the riders closely bunched throughout. Crutchlow managed the 6th fastest time in FP1 and, although he ended the day outside the top 10 after some small mistakes on his flying laps in FP2, remains optimistic of improving on Saturday.
Cal Crutchlow – 14th
“It’s nice to be back on the Portimao track. It’s a really difficult track to get right, there are so many different lines and braking points and you have to be clever, as such, to put a good lap together here because there are a lot of corners and sequences of corners. I think we did ok today, I’m disappointed with the final position because I made some mistakes on my lap which were completely my own fault, but after 11 years since I rode here, it’s good to get the memory back of riding a good circuit.”
More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:
Portuguese GP – After the first day of practice Jack Miller conquered the Top Ten, Pecco P15
First day in Portimao, which this Sunday will see the last race of the 2020 MotoGP Championship at the Algarve International circuit. At the end of the first day Jack is in top ten and Pecco fifteenth in the combined standings. Jack Miller and his Team used the first day of free practice to adapt his Ducati to the track working on the set up and electronics. In the afternoon session Miller continued the work started in the FP1, during the fourth and final run the Australian rider did the time attack by setting his best time of 1:39.820, a time that allows Jack to close the day in ninth position. Pecco Bagnaia as his team mate took advantage of Friday’s free practice to work on the set-up trying to find the best possible feeling on the track. In the FP2 he continued to work hard, Pecco was very fast and managed to be in the top ten for almost the whole session. He closed in fifteenth position with a time of 1:39.977 only 1 tenth from the top ten.
I had a really great time today. In the afternoon I felt much better and we took a step forward, i was very fast for all the FP2. I have very good feelings about the track and the bike, I like it very much, I am very satisfied with the work we are doing.
Definitely a positive day, I like the track very much and I had a lot of fun, there are some very difficult points like turn one, eight and nine. As a first day I feel very satisfied and have a good feeling with the bike. We hope to do well tomorrow too.
More, from a press release issued by Esponsorama Racing:
JOHANN ZARCO FINISHES AS THE FASTEST ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX
Esponsorama Racing and Johann Zarco managed to finish as the fastest on the first day of practice at the Autodromo do Algarve, with Tito Rabat in twentieth position.
After the test carried out in October by both riders, they arrived in Portimão wanting to ride on this peculiar track with their Desmosedici. Both Rabat and Zarco have used FP1 to take braking references and get to know this circuit a little more.
In FP2 both riders improved their morning times. Tito Rabat lowered his record by almost two seconds with a time of 1’41.256. The Frenchman stopped the clock at 1’39.417, a second and a half faster than in the morning, which allowed him to finish as the fastest of the day.
Tomorrow from 9:55 the last free practice and qualifying sessions of the Portuguese Grand Prix will be held.
JOHANN ZARCO – P1
“I am very happy with today. I felt very comfortable on the soft tire and it is a good tire for a fast lap. Tomorrow we will work on how to have more rhythm on this very complicated circuit where the bike moves a lot, but I think we will find the solution to be more comfortable for the race ”
TITO RABAT – P20
“In the morning I didn’t feel comfortable on the bike as the rear wheel was spinning a lot. But in the afternoon, after the great work the team has done, I have been able to do much better so I hope to take another step forward tomorrow, on a new track where I think we can have a good race “