Portimao MotoGP with Boris | Merciless Portimao Punch Up

MotoGP 2022 – Round Five – Portimao
Grande Prémio Tissot de Portugal

I came home stinking of ASBK magnificence after a weekend at Wakefield Park, and sat down on my fluffy towel to a MotoGP circus always worthy of the name.

That Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is one hairy-balled beast of a track. A brutal roller-coaster that allows no rest, and punishes mistakes like a cranky old nun. And it can make for spectacular racing. But such is its nature, it can also make for processional racing, with riders trying not to crash, while fighting with their genetic imperative to win at any cost. I love it, no matter what the racing is like.

And it looked an awful lot like it was going to be a wet shitfight. The practices were sodden limp-fests, which threw up both the expected and unexpected. Marc Marquez cemented himself at the top of the time-sheets for FP1 and second for FP2, being pipped by his team-mate Pol Espargaro – but since we all know Pol will mainly do lots of nothing on race-day, this was just an anomaly.

Marc looked good, and if it stayed wet, then he was a good chance of standing on the top step once again. But it didn’t stay wet, and while he made a fist of Qualifying, a yellow flag saw his lap-time canceled and him relegated to ninth on the grid.

Zarco sat on pole. Yes, I was amazed, too. Mir, consistently fast, wet, damp, or dry, was in second, and there were whispers the 2020 World Champion might be in the right head-space to make a serious attempt at winning something.

Aleix had bunged his Aprilia into third, while Jack, Fabulous, and an astounded Bezzechi made up the second row. Clearly Rossi’s presence at the track had inspired young Bezzechi to put his best rookie foot forward.

Pecco Bagnaia was at the back of the grid

A hapless Rins was starting on 23rd, while Bologna’s pre-season Golden Child and Ducati’s Great Italian Hope, Pecco Bagnaia was stone, motherless last, and nursing a badly banged-up shoulder after an oopsie in Qualifying. The Beast was in 18th, so it all looked a little strange, but highly intriguing.

And it was going to be a dry race. I fetched a spare towel.

Portimao MotoGP Start
Portimao MotoGP Start

Within seconds of the race-start it was obvious what was going to happen. Fabulous effed off. Then he effed off some more. Then he kept effing off until there was nowhere else to eff off to.

It was a dazzling display of domination. And this from a bloke who has been constantly complaining about his Yamaha’s performance. But you’ll recall he was also complaining the year he won the championship. Go figure.

So Fabulous just left, piling on a lead that would prove too unassailable and almost embarrassing for the rest of the field. Sure, Mir led for a few corners and a lap, but once Fabulous went past him, it was all over.

Mir chased Quartararo but not for long…

Mir’s team-mate, the redoubtable Rins – who is also a far quicker rider than Mir, but has until now lacked consistency – made an epic start and was in the tenth spot before the end of the first lap.

Pole-sitter Zarco also rode back to fifth place in the first lap, but quickly put paid to a cheeky and surprisingly fast Alex Marquez, grabbing fourth spot off him without too much trouble.

Zarco failed to capitalise on his pole position

It’s like they were all collecting themselves, sorting out their heads, and girding their loins – apart from, of course, Fabulous, who’d arrived at the track with loins as girded as possible – even though he was now so far ahead of the loins could not even be seen.

Zarco then found the pace to skip past Miller for third, as Rins worked his relentless way into ninth. Then into eighth. This must have horrified Jorge Martin, who arrived in the gravel trap in a shower of sharp, pointy rocks that Bagnaia has been complaining about all weekend.

Seems Pecco likes his gravel to be smooth and rounded. And maybe if he ever wins a title, someone will pay attention to his demands. But until that day comes, he has to crash onto the same sharp-edged crap everyone else does.

As the riders spaced themselves out behind the uncatchable Fabulous, an epic battle began to take place for ninth spot. Pol was at it with his team-mate, Marc, as the Beast stalked them both.

Another battle emerged for fifth place. Alex Marquez, Aleix Espargaro, and Miguel Oliveira started to duke it out, then Rins passed them all like they were standing still.

Zarco was in third and closing hard on Mir, who must have been wondering how he was going to catch Fabulous, who was now two seconds ahead of him and still lapping faster than them all. Jack trailed Mir in fourth by more than one-and-a-half seconds, but looked to be re-focusing.

The Beast called it a day, and entered the gravel, which did not do his championship any good at all. Taka also crashed, but managed to remount, just as the blokes up the front seemed to pause for a breath.

Fabulous was now almost four seconds clear. Mir, in second, was keeping Zarco at bay, and Jack had now shut down Zarco’s advantage to less than a second.

Jack Miller

Zarco upped it a touch, and started to out-drag Mir down the straight. But Mir would out-brake him and keep second place out of the Frenchman’s reach. And, of course, this allowed Jack to close up even more on the pair.

It was getting very intense for second. Zarco finally hammered past Mir on his third attempt and didn’t flub Turn One. Jack also closed up on the Spaniard, and behind him both Aleix Espargaro and Rins were turning it up a notch.

Brad Binder took this opportunity to visit the stones at Turn 11, and parts of South Africa were set alight yet again. It seems that wishful South African thinking just isn’t working as well as it should for Brad.

Jack, who had been threatening Mir for some time, now made his run at the end of the main straight. And he got him. But the speed he was carrying into what is really a ten-bastard corner – a sharp, sudden downhill swoop into a slow right-hander, which is rather blind on the initial approach – meant he had to haul on all the front-brake he had, which was too much. His front folded under him, and he took Mir out as well.

Back in the Ducati pit, Davide Tardozzi closed his eyes and put his head in his hands. He looked rather crushed. And speaking of crushing, Fabulous was now almost six seconds clear of the rest of them. His leathers were all done up, and he looked solid and steady.

Jack’s oopise with Mir now put Aleix in third place and Rins into fifth. And Aleix being Aleix, felt he should at least make an effort to spook Zarco. And so he made that effort, but Zarco defended in true Napoleonic fashion and held the Spaniard off.

Álex Márquez battled with big bro’

Marc Marquez had worked his way to sixth (thanks to Jack), and was enthusiastically duelling with his brother, Alex.

Bagnaia was also duelling, but he was duelling with Pol, and it was such a duel that Bagnaia tore one of the wings off the front of his Factory Ducati when he bumped into Pol on a corner.

And so ended the race. Fabulous cruised home, wreathed in domination. It was a staggeringly good ride, and most worthy of the champion he is.

Fabio Quartararo

Zarco made it a French one-two, though he was clearly disappointed he couldn’t stay with his countryman. As they all admitted after the race: Fabio was on another planet.

Johann Zarco and Fabio Quartararo

It will be fascinating to see if he remains on that planet as they head to Jerez in a few short days. I’m clearly going to need more towels.

Are Yamaha going to be able to hang on to boy wonder…?

Portimao MotoGP Race Results

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 41m39.6110
2 Johann Zarco Ducati +5.409
3 Alex Espargaro Aprilia +6.068
4 Alex Rins Suzuki +9.633
5 Migue Oliveira KTM +13.573
6 Marc Marquez Honda +16.163
7 Alex Marquez Honda +16.183
8 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati +16.511
9 Pol Espargaro Honda +16.769
10 Maverick Vinales Aprilia +18.063
11 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha +29.029
12 Luca Marine Ducati +29.249
13 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha +33.354
14 Remy Gardner KTM +40.205
15th Marco Bezzecchi Ducati +46.052
16 Takaaki Nakagami Honda +49.569
17 Darryn Binder Yamaha +50.303
Not Classified
DNF Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati +21 Laps
DNF Enea Bastianini Ducati +9 Laps
DNF Joan Mir Suzuki +18 Laps
DNF Jack Miller Ducati +18 Laps
DNF Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia +24 Laps
DNF Brad Binder KTM +17 Laps
DNF Jorge Martin Ducati +4 Laps
Lin Jarvis with Fabio Quartararo, where would Yamaha be without him, Fabio that is…

MotoGP Championship Points Standings

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 69
2 Alex Rins Suzuki 69
3 Alex Espargaro Aprilia 66
4 Enea Bastianini Ducati 61
5 Johann Zarco Ducati 51
6 Joan Mir Suzuki 46
7 Brad Binder KTM 42
8 Miguel Oliveira KTM 39
9 Jack Miller Ducati 31
10 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 31
11 Marc Marquez Honda 31
12 Pol Espargaro Honda 30
13 Jorge Martin Ducati 28
14 Maverick Vinales Aprilia 25
15th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 17
16 Luca Marine Ducati 14
17 Alex Marquez Honda 13
18 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 12
19 Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 8
20 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 8
21 Darryn Binder Yamaha 6
22 Remy Gardner KTM 3
23 Raul Fernandez KTM 0
24 Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 0
25 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 0
26 Stefan Bradl Honda 0

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