Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia ends Friday in top spot after changeable conditions in Portimao during the Portuguese GP.
MotoGP’s Friday running was disrupted by rain, with light sprinkles hitting the Portimão circuit. Practice 1 was largely dialling the bikes in for the weekend, while FP2 was where lap times began to matter for qualifying tomorrow.
Practice 1 was headed by Maverick Viñales, but the real story was Marc Marquez coming third on his first session in almost a year. Alex Rins split the two in what was a very tame practice. The times were not representative though, as the session started in damp conditions. The second session would be all-important in determining who would automatically go to Q2.
FP2, as expected, was full of action. Takaaki Nakagami had a colossal accident at turn 1, falling off the bike over the crest and ending up near the air fence at turn 1. He was taken to the medical center but was cleared of any problem.
The circuit improved rapidly over the course of the session, but there were fierce clouds threatening to dump water on the track. The improvement was such that the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaró took the top spot with 10 minutes to go, as the afternoon happy hour took hold.
Oliveira then took spot before Joan Mir put a brilliant lap together to take it by half a second, but there were still four minutes to go. All of a sudden, Francesco Bagnaia found over half a second to go fastest, into the 1.39s, and in first he stayed. That was an important benchmark for the Italian as he is now provisionally in Q2 tomorrow afternoon, barring FP3 being a whole lot quicker.
Marquez could be happy with his first day back on a bike in 9 months, creeping into that crucial top 10 in the dying moments. After the chequered flag, Johann Zarco’s engine blew up.
The full top 10 is as follows: