Fabulous Fabio Wins In Portugal Taking Risks To Step Up In Points For The Championship!
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Fabulous Fabio Wins In Portugal Taking Risks To Step Up In Points For The Championship!

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 26 April 2022

Author: Myanna Wedes

The 2022 Portuguese MotoGP Grand Prix was sensational with thrills, spills and a dominant victory from French rider Fabio Quartararo. He was on another level pushing his bike to the absolute limit and smiling from ear to ear with a bike that finally performed after so much doubt was clearly displayed in his body language from the previous events. It was a race where some excelled, others made mistakes and the World Championship became closer than anticipated with Quartararo and Alex Rins leading the charge. At present, we have Yamaha, Suzuki and Aprilia as the top three manufacturers in terms of the individual rider Championship which is outstanding considering the previous dominance of one over the other. The race itself has several riders of the day which include race winner Quartararo, Rins for his achievement of finishing 4th after starting 23rd and Aleix Espargaro who never gave up even when the riders in front of him were battling ferociously, that being Jack Miller and Joan Mir who ended up in the gravel trap after working so hard for their podium positions. The crash between these two riders was sure to end up in argument although both riders demonstrated their professionalism to check in on one another plus Miller apologising to the team for his error.

Credit - www.motogp.com (Fabio Quartararo)

We must say that a double French podium is great news for fans in this part of the world cheering on the two riders with varying styles. You have “El Diablo” with Quartararo who is vocal about where he wants to be with his bike and Johann Zarco who is the quiet achiever and an emotional rider. Both displayed quality self-control throughout the race knowing their limits and when to go beyond the limit whilst staying upright. It was vital for Zarco to finish the race after Ducati suffered a blow to their results with Enea Bastianini crashing out, Miller making a mistake that could have had him sitting in second or third place on the podium and Jorge Martin shaking his head after losing the front end and losing more points. The gap that Quartararo had out front is to be commended as he got further and further away from the field lap after lap. This is what we call dialled in! The start for Quartararo was the most essential ingredient to winning because if the start got away from him, he would not have had the chance to fight for victory in clear air. The tile is on the cards, that we know for certain because his mindset is now thinking with upmost belief.

The concessions should be gone soon for Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team and A Espargaro is happy about this because he genuinely wants to be a title contender. There are some issues with the clutch that need to be improved and the Spanish rider was not satisfied with the first part of the race as a result of the clutch. Once he had some clear air during the race, A Espargaro was able to push, attack and felt stronger. In chasing down Zarco, the Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team rider had no traction and destroyed his rear tyre so settling for third place was the best option as opposed to crashing or losing valuable title points. The Spanish rider wants to fight with the best and with the bike he has to showcase the growth of the team and the fact that they are created a bike worthy of being at the front. The difference with A Espargaro over others is that he is happy, relaxed and enjoying having his family present at certain events. Life is good and A Espargaro is keeping the feet on the ground. If he continues to improve, show strength on track and remain in a positive mindset, the Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team rider could go all the way in fighting for first, second or third in the title.

Fabio Quartararo #20:

“I got this win by pushing myself to the limit. To be honest, I pushed just as much in Argentina and Austin, but mainly here our bike feels good. The straight is not so long, and we have grip, which means that we can go ‘hammer time’. Today, I felt amazing from the Warm Up on. In the race, I made an amazing start. I wanted to ride aggressively from the beginning, because I know that if we are behind our rivals here, we struggle. And we did it! I'm super happy, because I managed to get that first victory of the season. It's the most important thing for me to never give up, and it turns out that really was the most important.”

Credit - Pramac Racing MotoGP Team (Johann Zarco)

Johann Zarco #5:

“I am very happy, I knew we could fight for the podium and we did it. It was very important both for me and for the team to do well in order to regain confidence. We made great strides and hopefully we can continue like this.”

Credit - www.motogp.com (Aleix Espargaro)

Aleix Espargaro #41:

"I am very happy! Fabio was unbeatable today. I lost a lot of time at the start both because of a less-than-perfect start and because of the rather hard battle with Alex Marquez. Then I was able to find my pace which, to be honest, was rather good, and in the end I even tried to attack Zarco. However, the risk was too high, so I settled for third place. We have once again demonstrated that we can battle with the best."

In terms of Ducati, Jack Miller was having a sensational weekend and it was a real shame to see him crash out also impacting Joan Mir’s race. Miller was on course for a second or third place finish until he was baited into the braking late into turn one as was Mir. Both riders are two of the best in terms of late braking. Due to the error, Ducati rider Pecco Bagnaia managed to race well in the second half of the race and finish in the top ten with a sore shoulder after a heavy impact a day prior. The display of pace by Miller is a reason to re-sign him and if he can learn from this slight mistake, it will make him an ever better rider. The next race is Jerez and it is literally around the corner so Miller has time to reset, focus and come back stronger to prove he is currently the leading Ducati rider in comparison to his teammate Bagnaia who has struggled with the new machine from the first race. If you were Bastianini, the feeling of losing out on vital points is hard to accept because the pressure is real because everyone is talking about the title race already and it is so early into the Championship.

Credit - Ducati Corse Press (Pecco Bagnaia)

Francesco Bagnaia #63:

"Our goal today was to finish eighth, and we did it, so we can be happy. It wasn't easy, but my team and the Clinica Mobile did a great job, putting me in a position to race. I tried to stay calm at the start, but it wasn't easy. Then, fortunately, I was able to find my pace and my feeling with the bike was incredible even though we had little time to test it in the dry. I'm satisfied with the result, and now I'll try to rest and recover as much as possible ahead of Jerez."

Credit - Ducati Corse Press (Jack Miller)

Jack Miller #43:

"At the beginning of the race, I tried to manage to save the tyres until the end. I had a good pace, and my feeling was improving lap by lap. When the others started to suffer, I felt I had more than them: I caught Mir, and when I thought I was close enough, I tried to pass him on the inside. I touched the brake a little, and maybe I ended up on a wet patch (still present at Turn 1) and crashed, bringing him down too. I am sorry, and I apologise to him and my team. We'll try again next week at Jerez".

Credit - Gresini Racing MotoGP Team (Enea Bastianini)

Enea Bastianini #23:

“We started on the right foot and we were having a good race. Unfortunately I lost three laps behind Espargaró and once I got past him, knowing I had lost a lot of time, I maybe pushed a bit too hard and crashed. It could have been a great comeback and we had the potential to do well. The bike on the dry was behaving very well and the goal now is to rest for a few days and be ready for Jerez.”

Credit - CormacGP & Repsol Honda MotoGP Team (Marc Marquez)

Finishing 6th was not ideal for Marc Marquez. It was an entertaining battle between Marc Marquez and his brother Alex Marquez, although the multiple World Champion does not want to be finishing here. In fact, he wants to be at the front battling for the title. It is in his nature to be on the winning machine and Honda need to continue developing the bike to keep Marquez at the team. The Honda rider did not have the speed in Portugal, the confidence feeling with the bike was not there and the comfort levels were low. The goal to be fast has to work with the rider being in sync with the machine. If the bike is at its optimum feeling, it does not matter what the conditions are like because you feel strong and fast. Jerez will be vital to the success of the bike plus the test afterwards to really determine what needs to happen in order for the Honda bike to be consistently competitive. The same opinion is shared with Pol Espargaro who looked uncomfortable all weekend. The inner workings of the team have to find a way to shift their problems into positive results. Time is ticking and other teams are continuing to improve at a rapid pace.

Credit - CormacGP & Repsol Honda MotoGP Team (Marc Marquez)

Marc Marquez #93:

“It’s not the result we want or want to be fighting for but today we did not have the feeling. Already in Warm Up I was not feeling how I wanted, and we made a small change for the race which helped a bit but the speed of our rivals was more than we had. We were there fighting with Pol in the start of the race and then Alex in the second half, it was an all-Honda battle really. Within this battle we were able to come out on top which was a positive but it’s true this is not where we should be. We need to be faster, in Jerez it’s time to be faster and finish closer to the front.”

Credit - CormacGP & Repsol Honda MotoGP Team (Pol Espargaro)

Pol Espargaro #44:

“We are not satisfied with how the race went; we did not have the speed today. It’s time to understand more why this situation is happening because during the pre-season we were strong. Jerez is a good place to turn this situation around and I am pleased we can go there straight away to keep working. Already there are some ideas to change the situation in Jerez so I hope the weather will be good there. We must keep working, we must work harder than our rivals to overcome these problems. Fortunately, we have amazing engineers in Japan and a great team here at the track to work with.”

Team Suzuki Ecstar is continuing to improve and become stronger race by race. Rins has rediscovered his confidence and Mir is happier with the progress of the team. No doubt the appointment of Livio Suppo has helped in ensuring the workload is shared and development of the bike on track. The end of the race, Rins did suffer with the front tyre because he was pushing to overtake and utilising the front tyre in the slow corners and really wanting to recover after a poor qualifying position. In the last four laps, Rins knew that finishing the race was far more beneficial than throwing it all on the line for a podium. The maturity in this decision making process is a reason why Team Suzuki Ecstar will resign him as results show progress and are important to the team. Both Rins and Mir keep believing in the project and themselves which is allowing them to propel forward. The first Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez is going to be exciting and no doubt Suzuki will be gearing up for battle!

Alex Rins #42:

“It was a good race for me, I finished quite a long way up considering my grid spot. These points are very important, and it’s great to have moved up the standings; I’m now in second place, on equal points with Fabio. Honestly, I believed in my potential today, even if it seemed tough from so far back. I knew I could have a good rhythm and a strong finish. The contrast between yesterday and today is massive, yesterday we didn’t feel much like celebrating but now we can be happy with the race. Now let’s go to Spain and Jerez!”

Joan Mir #36:

“It was really hard to push in this race, I was struggling to attack. After my good start I was just trying to get the best position possible, and I sort of went into defence mode. What happened with Jack was obviously frustrating, but mistakes can happen in racing and I’ve also made similar mistakes in the past. It was a racing incident and nothing deliberate. It's a shame not to score any points here, but we’ll move onto Jerez now and try to find the best settings to give me a good chance of fighting.”

Next up is Jerez and with only a few days break before the riders are putting their elbows and knees down sliding around a home circuit for so many. We look forward to seeing how things unfold this weekend in Spain.

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