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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Mixed First Day in Portimao for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP


Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli were keen to kick off the 2023 MotoGP season today at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. However, the first day of the Grande Prémio de Portugal was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Damp conditions in P1 and two red flags in P2 kept the riders on their toes. Quartararo ultimately secured 6th in the combined session rankings and so a place in tomorrow‘s Q2. Franco Morbidelli ended the day in 20th place and will take part in Q1.

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team was excited to commence the Grande Prémio de Portugal and thus their 2023 MotoGP World Championship quest. Fabio Quartararo saved the best for last and spurted to sixth overall, earning him a place in tomorrow‘s Q2. Franco Morbidelli suffered a highside in the damp early stages of P1, but was OK to keep riding. The Italian ended the day in 20th place and will take part in tomorrow‘s Q1.

Fans were cheering as they saw Quartararo enter the track for P1. With the GP weekend format changed for 2023, the Friday sessions carry even more importance. For the Frenchman it was therefore key to start work on his bike‘s settings. Several riders opted for a soft rear tyre in the final stages of the session to put in a time attack. El Diablo, however, stayed out on a soft-medium tyre combination and set a 1‘39.281s on lap 16/16, to take eighth place, 0.499s from the top.

The number-20 rider worked himself up to the top spot only 10 minutes into the sunny afternoon session. Having a full hour of dry track time, he aimed to make the most of the opportunity to prepare for tomorrow‘s Sprint and Sunday‘s race. However, two red flags halted his progress slightly. When the session got back underway for a second time, Quartararo went into time attack mode. He set a 1‘38.015s on lap 28/29, to take sixth place in the P2 and combined timesheets, 0.306s from first. It got him straight into tomorrow‘s Q2.

Rain in Moto2 P1, right before the very first MotoGP session of 2023, had made the track slippery. As Morbidelli headed out on slicks, he suffered an early highside, but he was quick to step back aboard his M1 and ride it to the pit box. When the Italian returned out on track, the riding line was significantly dryer and he gradually rose through the rankings until the final minutes when a time attack started. He ended the session in 14th place, 0.847s off the fastest time, with a 1‘39.629s, set on lap 12/13.

The number-21 was OK to start pushing again in the P2 session in the afternoon, but it wasn‘t all plain sailing. A technical issue at the Portimao circuit caused a red-flag interruption, and later a heavy crash by a fellow MotoGP rider halted the session once again. The stop-start situation meant Morbidelli had to abort his original plans to improve rear grip. He pushed in the final minutes, but his 1‘38.978s, set on lap 27/29, put him in 20th place in the P2 and combined results, 1.269s from first.

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