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MotoGP Portimao: Zarco survives crash-fest to take pole

Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco survived an action and accident-packed qualifying to secure pole position for the Portuguese GP at Portimao.

A frenetic final session saw the leader change by the second with the Frenchman celebrating after a 1’42.003 lap in the dying moments. Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro completed the front row with their own final efforts as late-session-leader Jack Miller dropped from provisional pole to fourth in the blink of an eye.

The premier class qualifying fight fired up from the outset despite the mixed conditions with championship leader Enea Bastianini up against the qualifying prowess of Ducati’s Jorge Martin and Pecco Bagnaia amongst the 15 Q1 runners. Valentino Rossi trackside as younger brother Luca Marini joined the fray.


Takaaki Nakagami and Remy Gardner were the first to head out on slick tyres as a dry line developed on the still cold circuit with the Australian highsiding off the Tech3 after a damp patch at turn nine. The LCR rider diving straight back into the pits to swap rubber.

Aprilia locked out the top two positions as the initial laps registered, Maverick Viñales leading test rider Lorenzo Savadori with Yamaha’s Franky Morbidelli in third. Bastianini’s opening effort took charge as Bagnaia crashed out on slick Michelin at turn nine, the Italian landing heavily on his right shoulder after a monster highside and looking hurt.

Birthday boy Alex Marquez was in control as the final five minutes began having made the slick softs work on the LCR Honda, teammate Nakagami claiming second on medium wets from Bastianini and Andrea Dovizioso.

Pramac’s Martin was the next to strike, falling short of the final promotion place by a mere 0.001s as Dovizioso pushed for glory next time around. The experienced Italian broke the 1’50 barrier for the first time this weekend before Marquez bettered on 1’49.004 pace. Marini initially holding second before Martin demoted him with a 1’48.870 to take control overall.

Bastianini crashed out in the dying seconds at turn five as Marini recovered to take second once again. Marquez consolidating his lead with a dominant 1’46.316, eight-tenths clear of the Mooney VR46 with Martin and Viñales in third and fourth. Fabio Di Giannantonio secured fifth on the sole remaining Gresini machine from Dovizioso and Nakagami with teammate Bastianini completing the afternoon in eighth for a row six start in Sunday’s race.

The championship top two were nowhere to be seen as Q2 prepared under clearing skies, the pack running slicks but acutely aware of the damp patches still littering the 4.6km surface.

Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo saved a turn seven moment as the back kicked out on the M1 in the mixed conditions, the younger Marquez taking charge of the standings as he utilised his prior knowledge with a 1’45.654. Mir was the next to shine, two-tenths ahead of the LCR rider before Ducati Lenovo’s Miller joined the fun and split the pair in second.

Marco Bezzecchi made his presence felt on the with the fourth fastest time of the afternoon so far, bettering Quartararo in the process before he struck for the lead. Teammate Marini joining him before Marquez leapfrogged them both, the family affair continuing as Marc Marquez followed his brother to second ahead of the VR46 duo.

Quartararo consolidated fifth ahead of Mir before the 2020 Champion advanced to second. Pol Espargaro trailing his Repsol Honda teammate for fourth seconds later before Miller and Zarco demoted the pair respectively in third and sixth. A stunning effort from the M1 found Quartararo challenging for pole before the Spaniard improved again. Zarco denying the birthday celebrations with his sixth lap to take charge by just 0.06s.


The hot laps kept coming as Quartararo advanced back to second, Mir hitting the front on the bubble of 1’43 with two minutes left to run as Zarco then Miller bettered again. The factory Ducati setting a 1’42.503 in a bid for a second Portimao pole in succession for the Lenovo squad.

30 seconds to go and Espargaro crashed out at turn 15, yellow flags denying his HRC teammate on his final effort as his pole-worthy time was deleted, dropping him back to eighth.

A final spectacular flurry saw the standings shuffle again as Mir and Aleix Espargaro both bettered the Australian’s time before Zarco arrived in the dying seconds with a 1’42.003.

Miller was dumped to fourth in the final action from Quartararo and Bezzecchi as Marquez crashed the LCR on a slow down lap from seventh. Marini headed the eight-time champion on row three with the second Repsol, and two KTM’s of Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder completing the top 12.


Bagnaia cleared of potential fractures by the circuit medical centre before being transferred to local hospital for further checks

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