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Bagnaia Leads Friday Practice at Portimão; Marquez is 6th Quickest

If you thought that Marc Marquez (Honda) would be slow and cautious on his return to MotoGP after a nine-month layoff, you were wrong on both counts. With unpredictable weather in Portimão, the riders treated free practice 2 earlier today as a mini-qualification, i.e., their ticket into Q2 tomorrow. There were some fast times.

Ducati’s Pecco Bagnaia set the fastest lap today ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Joan Mir (Suzuki). Marquez posted the 6th quickest time – less than half a second off Bagnaia.

Marquez looked aggressive on track while saving several slides … including in right-hand turns where he potentially would land on his freshly healed right arm. The old Marquez is back.

Take a look here for combined times during Friday practice. Watch MD for qualifying coverage tomorrow and race results on Sunday.


  1. Spoone says:

    He’s fast, sure. That was to be expected.
    But is he “back”? Maybe. But practice isn’t a race, and all the marbles aren’t up for grabs.
    Sunday will tell the tale of whether he’s “back” yet.

  2. Provologna says:

    A little OT. If known, I’d love a ‘splanation how the Ducs seem to generate 20% more power than the competition. Do Desmo heads allow higher RPM? Do Dorna rules limit the RPM of all engines? I realize VW-Audi owns Ducati, and VW is one of the larger automotive companies, probably a lot bigger than Honda. But how in the heck do these guys in Bologna, Italy generate that much more power than Honda, with its world class racing pedigree?

    • Motoman says:

      You may be right, but I thought the Ducati was getting it to the ground better vs outright power.

    • Jeremy says:

      The Honda actually isn’t that far off, or at least they weren’t in 2019. Marc didn’t have trouble staying in the Ducati’s slip stream, then. The Yamaha and Suzuki are significantly down on power in comparison, though.

      Since the desmo engine doesn’t use a spring to close the valve, the valve doesn’t suffer from float at high rpms and therefore gives better sealing and more accurately traces the cam profile. That’s the theory behind desmo, anyway, and Ducati sure seems to make a good case for it on the track to us casual observers. When a valve is opening and closing 150 times per second, that’s a pretty good advantage to have. I do not believe that there is a rev limit in place, but I could be wrong about that. I’ve read GP bikes currently operate around 18000 rpms.

      I’ve also heard in commentary that Ducati may use a mechanical device on the straights to get better drive similar to their launch device (or perhaps simply another function of the launch device.) Several riders last year swore they saw the Ducatis, particularly Miller’s bike, change pitch as they entered the straights. I don’t know if that was ever definitively confirmed though or if Ducati still uses it assuming it ever existed.

  3. Brinskee says:

    Is it really any surprise he’s fast?

    It’s not like his injury made him forget HOW to ride. Have we forgotten Casey Stoner coming in as Ducati test rider after not being on a bike for something like 3 years? He came in like 5th place in testing?

    These guys don’t forget. Especially after less than a year.

    Let’s see what happens on race day, when he’s in a mix with the pack, battling, maneuvering for passes. Let’s see what happens when his arm gets fatigued. Let’s see what happens when he has come close calls or eventually does go down again. Because he will.

    I do think he’ll make it back to the top. He’s just not there yet. Will he be by the end of the weekend? We will see if he’s back on Sunday. Not before then.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Marquez said his arm was tired in the 2d free practice, and he didn’t feel as well on the bike. Fatigue may well be a factor in the race Sunday. I think everybody expected he would have to work himself back into shape. The real question was whether he would show the same level of aggression he showed before the injury, and so far it looks like he will.

      • Brinskee says:

        Guess “he’s back” is relative. I’ll have to remember this when I’m making similar proclamations.

        Again, this guy gets a taste of freedom after finally being able to stretch his wing after almost a year? He knows the world of motorsport – and his competitors – are watching? He’s got his own legacy to consider? Did anyone thing he would crawl onto the tarmac? Really??

        Reality will settle in sometime tomorrow afternoon, signs may emerge Sunday after warm up. Until then I remain unconvinced. He’s back on his bike. That’s about it.

        • Dirck Edge says:

          So he has to win the first race to be “back”? Ok

          • fred says:

            Again, definitions. If “back” means that he is riding in the race, he’s already there. If it means he’s at his old levels of strength and skill, he’s not “back” yet. When he wins his first post-arm-surgery race, we’ll know he’s “back”.

        • mickey says:

          I expected him to do a top 5 or 6 in the race tomorrow.

          he qualified 6th second row, behinds Rins I believe, so that’s a good start. Fatigue? Probably. Will he cave and give up? Never. Not in his DNA

    • Jeremy says:

      I’ve done some enduro racing (not professionally) and it takes some time to recalibrate the brain, reflexes, and intuition even if you go just a few months without engaging. You don’t forget how to go fast, the same way you don’t forget how to play a guitar. But the muscle memory and the senses involved in performing those actions without thought need to be nurtured back to health as well, and that is something you can only do on the bike in a race setting. .

      The other thing is the fatigue of going race distance. There is no other form of training other than racing that can prepare the body for that. He’s in top shape, so that probably won’t take terribly long. But it still has to come with time.

      He’s riding like an elite rider in an elite setting at a track he hasn’t been to on a bike he hasn’t ridden since the beginning of last season. That is pretty spectacular, IMO. Even if he finishes outside of the top 10 tomorrow, I think every rider on that grid would say “he’s back” and are all pretty concerned about scoring as many points as they can before midseason.

      • mickey says:

        It’s funny, I’m normally a daily rider. Due to a recent medical issue I was off the bikes for nearly a month. The other day I finally got back on a bike for a nice 37 miles country curvy road ride. Felt great, felt almost normal, but for some reason I kept forgetting to cancel my turn signal, which I never did before.

        The following days ride, I was killing the t/s automatically, just like normal.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Sunday ends the speculation, but Friday is offering up some pretty compelling foreshadowing. It will be interesting to see what kind of race pace he puts in during FP4 assuming good weather. In any case, MM is looking mighty fast for a guy that has been off the bike for so long, particularly at a track where all his competitors had the opportunity to race at last season while he was out.

  5. mickey says:

    Petronas Yamaha seems to have lost their way this year.

    Nakagami’s crash was pretty spectacular, then he came back and put in a top 10 time. Tough kid.

    Those Ducati’s are really hot… just ask Zarco lol

  6. Brinskee says:

    Like many can attest (Hi, JM43) they give out the trophies on Sunday. Not Friday. Not Saturday. Let’s see if MM93 is back. I’m not convinced yet.

  7. TimC says:

    “The old Marquez is back.”

    Told you.

  8. fred says:

    We still don’t know Marc’s fitness over race distance, but even at less than 100%, he is still competitive in the top tier. It should be a good race.

    Portimao seems to be a tough track for rookies, but they should improve over the next couple of days. Considering all the abuse Savadori has taken from the “fans”, it was good to see him a bit higher up the standings.
    Binder picked up about 6 1/2 seconds from morning to afternoon, so will also be interesting to watch.

  9. mickey says:

    Interesting and fun to watch. Yea Marquez didn’t look like he was holding back too much. He ran 3rd in FP1. So far set to transfer to Q2, but have to wait and watch FP3. 4 and qualifying tomorrow.

    I can tell you this unless he crashes and gets hurt, he’s going to beat a bunch of guys that didn’t take 245 days off.

  10. Provologna says:

    OMG. I had to read the MM line three times. Silly me I suppose. Underestimating MM seems to come with a high price tag.

    How is that even remotely possible?

    If you saw his interview @ MotoGP he was underselling himself. Re. “expectation” he said stuff like, “none…just want to safely finish the race,” etc.

    Now add “poker face champion” to MM’s list of accomplishments.

    Holy crap this is insane. His hospital stay last surgery in early Dec. was TEN DAYS. That was 4.5 months ago. TEN DAYS is a LOOOOONG hospital stay.

    If you need bone surgery hire that team, if you can!

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Problem is, “that team” tend to only go that extra mile for “those guys…” Just like guys wrenching at the local Honda shop, would no doubt go that little extra mile, if it was MMs bike they were working on.

      Heck, most people with MM like fractures, would never, ever put themselves in a situation where they would even notice whether they were recovered enough to perform at his level…

      Every little detail is just best of the best, at that level.

  11. Marcus says:

    Welp, there’s the answer.

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