MotoGP: Riders Assess Their Chances In Portuguese Grand Prix

MotoGP: Riders Assess Their Chances In Portuguese Grand Prix

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Dorna:

“This track is insane!”: Thursday talking points from Portugal

Thursday, 21 March 2024

After a showstopping start in Qatar, we’re already back on track this weekend for the Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal, with the stunning Autodromo Internacional do Algarve playing host.

The week started with news that Fermin Aldeguer would be moving up to MotoGP™ next season with Ducati, so the current Beta Tools SpeedUp rider joined the second press-conference line-up on Thursday.

Once the podcast had welcomed Enea Bastianini, the first press conference saw reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) joined by Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), aka the current top three in the Championship. 

Then, after news earlier this week that Fermin Aldeguer would be moving up to MotoGP™ next season with Ducati, the current Beta Tools SpeedUp rider joined the second press-conference, alongside Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), rookie Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) and Miguel Oliveira (Trackhouse Racing).

Here are some photos and quotes from the opening day on the Algarve.

PECCO BAGNAIA

How much confidence do you bring into this weekend?

 

Francesco Bagnaia. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Francesco Bagnaia. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

“First of all, I want to say I love this track, it is one of my favourites with a lot of up and downhill sections. It is a mix of Mugello and Sachsenring and I love to ride here. Last year was a perfect start to the season like it was in Qatar, so I am quite confident as I think with the 2024 bike we can be more competitive in some areas of the track, so I am looking forward to starting the weekend.”.

BRAD BINDER

How high are expectations after round one?

 

Brad Binder. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Brad Binder. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

“Obviously, it went well in Qatar it was fantastic to start the season with two podiums. Coming here is really exciting for me as it where last year that we started to find our bearings and if we have a look at what we ran here last year and where we finished the season it was two worlds apart so I am really keen to go out for FP1 to see where our base is and see how everything works. This track is insane, it is so up and down and flowing in some places, and stop and go in others, and it is something that you need a different bike for. I think our bike will be strong here as Jack showed last year and I think this year we stand a chance of being even stronger.”

JORGE MARTIN

You said in Qatar you weren’t 100% with the GP24, how do you see your potential here?

 

Jorge Martin. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Jorge Martin. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

“Well, let’s see. It is difficult to say now but for sure it’s a track I enjoy, last year I was strong, I had some issues in the race but I think the pace was really good to battle. Let’s see I feel I am in a good condition so let’s see if I can feel better with the bike, but I think I am finding the way.”

MARC MARQUEZ

What do you expect this weekend?

 

Marc Marquez. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Marc Marquez. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

“Of course, the approach for the weekend is the exact same as Qatar and obviously we will have a new factor which is we will head to a circuit straight into a race weekend. This changes our planning as straight away in FP1 you need to have a lap time and be fast and that was the most difficult thing in Malaysia and Qatar, that first day I was struggling a bit so let’s see if here in Portimao I can start in the top 10 positions straight away to jump into Q2. That is the main target but let’s see where we are in a completely different race track.”

On Acosta’s overtake:

“As I said last year and I reconfirm that he will be one of the guys in the future for MotoGP and the present because as he showed in Qatar he has enough talent and before the race, I already said that you are fast with any type of bike and he was super fast on those laps. I am sure he will learn to manage tyres and he will be much better in the next races.”

And his save earlier in the Qatar GP

“I already said it was a good one, you really need to believe in the bike to do that. That one was a good one, he has a really good riding style and when they jump from Moto2 they have super good corner speed. When I followed Pedro for the two laps during the race he was super fast in the fast corners and made the difference.”

 

PEDRO ACOSTA

How much are you looking forward to riding a MotoGP bike around Portimao?

 

Pedro Acosta. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Pedro Acosta. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

“For sure I want it to be a nice weekend, Portimao is one of my favourite circuits on the calendar, with Australia. Like Marc said it is going to be difficult as it’s the first track that we’ve come to with a MotoGP bike without testing, so this will be tricky. We will have all the support from the Factory Team and all the engineers for this so let’s try and make a consistent weekend.”

How did it feel to overtake Marc?

“It was a super nice race because the first lap was tricky for me after the moment with Jack at the start. The feeling of the bike was amazing, as since Moto3™ I have not had this feeling with the front tyre to brake at the last moment and go down the inside. The overtake was nice but he managed the whole race better so we don’t have to think too much about the overtake.”

On that Qatar GP save:

“I’ve seen many races on the TV and I’ve seen many of Marc’s saves like this. It was a good save but also it is normal in FP1 with all of the sand that is always in Qatar. Like I said it is a track I know more or less the grip and the tyres. Now we come to a track with different asphalt and also different tyre compounds compared to Qatar. We need to start from zero with our feet on the ground and just not think too much about the Qatar race as it was unreal.”

MIGUEL OLIVEIRA

What’s possible this weekend?

 

Miguel Oliveira. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Miguel Oliveira. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

“It is a different situation as I know to come from an average result like in Qatar to come here and say I am ready to challenge for the victory is maybe too ambitious but I know what I am capable of doing. Nowadays the grid in MotoGP™ is very particular, you can be from 12th to first in a split second. Everything is possible and I don’t want to create any limitations or too much expectations. I am still adapting to the bike but I feel I am making steps in the right direction and hopefully this weekend straight away on Friday we can show we have the speed for the top 10. Then obviously the complexity of Qualifying well and doing the race, we need to overcome those challenges of terms of results on Saturday and Sunday.”

FERMIN ALDEGUER

How special is it to know you’ll be racing Pedro, Marc, and Miguel in MotoGP™ next year?

 

Fermin Aldeguer. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Fermin Aldeguer. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

“I am really happy to announce my jump to MotoGP™ in 2025 but now it is time to stay focused in the Moto2™ class. In Qatar, I felt pressure from people saying I am the favourite rider but I have to manage this pressure. My season will start here in Portimao with a good feeling, but I am very happy to be going to MotoGP with Ducati.”

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