The Italian kicks off his title defence in fine fashion ahead of Viñales and Bezzecchi; early drama sees Marquez & Oliveira in the gravel
History was made once again by Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) as he took his first victory with the number 1 plate on his factory Ducati machine, taking not just the inaugural Tissot Sprint victory, but winning the main event at the Grande Prémio TISSOT de Portugal as well. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) pushed the Italian all the way to the chequered flag picking up 2nd, with Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) starting his 2023 in high spirits with a podium finish.
Grande Prémio Tissot de Portugal: MotoGP™ Race
An electric start to 2023
The Tissot Sprint gave us plenty to digest on Saturday, but on Sunday the attention had turned to the main event for the Grande Prémio TISSOT de Portugal as it became crunch time in MotoGP™. All eyes were on the boys in red as Francesco Baganaia was eyeing up the first double victory in MotoGP™ history, with the rest of the grid eager to stop him.
It was a brilliant start for Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) who took the hole shot into Turn 1, but Martin quickly bit back to take the lead. There was barely a chance to catch your breath before a charging Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) came barrelling through, making contact with Martin, dropping down to 4th spot, and allowing room for Oliveira to retake the lead, with Martin now in 2nd and Bagnaia watching on from 3rd.
One lap down, and Bagnaia slotted his factory Ducati neatly up the inside of Jorge Martin to take 2nd spot away from the Spaniard, and by the end of the lap, he had picked off the homeland hero Oliveira to break his way into the race lead. Oliveira had a little look at the reigning Champion on the brakes as they hurtled into Turn 1, but Bagnaia was too late on the anchors.
Two corners later and disaster struck for the Portuguese fans as Marquez massively overshot his braking marker, barging into Jorge Martin and crashing into Oliveira t-boning the Portuguese rider, and taking him out of the Portuguese Grand Prix with both Oliveira and Marquez ending their race in the gravel trap. Martin dropped down to 14th after the incident, failing to recover and eventually crashing out of the Grand Prix. The incident reshuffled the order promoting Maverick Viñales up into 2nd place, with Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) in 3rd.
M. Marquez wipes out Oliveira in massive crash
With the chaos unfolding behind him, Bagnaia began to pull away at the front in an attempt to make an escape onboard his factory Ducati. However, it wasn’t going to be if Maverick Viñales was going to have anything to say about it. Bagnaia began to come under attack from the Spaniard as he closed in on the reigning Champion.
As the race went on Bagnaia began to control the pace at the front, and with 13 laps to go the Italian started to break away from Viñales, stretching out a 0.5s gap over the Aprilia man. Eventually, Bagnaia was able to stretch the gap to 1s, controlling the race from the front right up until the chequered flag.
As the race settled after the drama in the opening laps, it left a tantalising battle for 3rd place involving Marco Bezzecchi, Alex Marquez, and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
It wasn’t long before Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) wanted a taste of the action, chasing down his new teammate in an attempt to put himself in podium contention and retake his spot as top dog at KTM.
Bezzecchi was putting the hammer down doing all he could to try to break the chasing pack, stretching out the group, and protecting his podium spot. The young Italian pulled away from the group, and the battle for 3rd became a battle for 4th in a fascinating 5-way scrap being led by Alex Marquez and Jack Miller, with Brad Binder, Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) following closely and waiting to pick up the pieces.
The final sector quickly came around and it was blink-and-you-miss-it stuff from the riders scrapping it out. With just a few corners left, it looked as if 4th place was safe in the hands of Alex Marquez, until Johann Zarco made an incredible move, putting the power down through his Michelin rear tyre to squeeze his way through on Marquez on acceleration at Turn 13, fending him off holding P4 to the line.
A mountain to climb for Quartararo
Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) struggled to recover from his 11th-place grid start. The Frenchman battled hard to make his way up to 10th spot, holding the position for the majority of the race.
As it came to crunch time Quarataro put the hammer down, setting a blistering pace to claw down the riders in front. With 2 laps to go, Quartararo found himself reeling in the battle for 4th, taking full advantage of the carnage ahead to slot himself ahead of Aleix Espargaro to take 8th place away from the Spaniard just before the last lap.
Quartararo came across the line wishing there was one more lap as he just about managed to salvage 8th place in a damage limitation job for the former Champion.
What a way to start the 2023 MotoGP™ season, the Grande Prémio TISSOT de Portugal did not disappoint as we say goodbye to Portimao and prepare for more MotoGP™ action in Argentina just one week after Round 1. Make sure to keep up to date with all of the action as it unfolds on motogp.com
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:38.875
2. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) + 0.687
3. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 2.726
4. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) + 8.060
5. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) +8.125
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 8.247
7. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)+ 8.381
8. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 8.543
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 9.294
10. Alex Rins (LCR Honda CASTROL) + 11.992