Q1 and Q2 of the Portimão MotoGP allowed for some exciting viewing: a cat and mouse chase between Marc Marquez and Mir and Bagnaia’s pole producing lap time being canceled.
Q1 started with Mir in a good track position after he quickly took first place. Soon after Marc Marquez closed right in on Mir but was unable to find a way past. However, with nine minutes to go, he snagged the fastest lap time of 01.39.235s with Mir just behind after collecting a 01.39.399s.
This cat and mouse act looked like it was going to continue even after the two re-emerged from the pits, with Marquez remaining close behind the Suzuki Ecstar rider, but in the end, Marquez respectfully gave Mir some space on the out-lap.
In spite of the extra space, the two were unable to achieve their goals. Mir improved on his time somewhat, he was unable to fully catch Marquez and Marquez failed to improve on his own time, likely due to the wear on his three-lap old tires.
Impressively, Alex Marquez lurked just a tenth behind his brother and so finished in third. Pol Esperago, having been flipped from his bike in FP4, unsurprisingly was not in contention to go through to Q2. He did, however, move from a fifth-place up into a fourth by the end of the session. This leaves him starting in 16th in the race tomorrow.
Petrucci, who is currently suffering from a shoulder injury, and Lecuona who is recovering from arm pump surgery, finished in eighth and ninth respectively. This result is unsurprising given their current injuries.
Once again, Valentino Rossi failed to make an impression and ended the session in seventh. This means he will start in the 17th position tomorrow, a slight improvement on his Doha Grand Prix qualifying results.
Q2 began with Aleix Espargaro taking the initial pole early on with a 01.39.452. However, Quartararo quickly challenged this with 1.39.028 and in the process retook the lead.
Marquez surprisingly decided to stay in the pits till the last five minutes and though he at one point slipped into third, he eventually landed in sixth after Alex Rin and Johann Zarco jumped up into P2 and P3 respectively. Zarco’s result comes as a pleasant surprise given that he crashed with only 9 minutes to go. In a post-race interview, he mentioned that he had the marshals to thank for allowing him to carry on.
In many instances throughout Q2, it looked like Fabio Quartararo would lose his provisional pole and indeed after the qualifying, he commented that “it is a pole, but it doesn’t feel like usual”. Instead, he is “happier with about FP3 and 4”. These comments come after Bagnaia’s flying lap of 01.38.494 pushed him dramatically into pole position but his unintentional yellow flag infringement, that came after Oliveira’s last-minute Turn 9 crash, meant the lap time was canceled.
Jack Miller gave an impressive performance, coming close to Zarco’s time with a 01.39.061. He will need to work on his entry and exit in the last corner if he doesn’t want to lose any more time there tomorrow. Viñales, shockingly, finished in the 12th position after have two lap times canceled.