Marquez surprises with pole position at Portimao MotoGP opener
Marc Marquez has taken a stunning pole position during the opening qualifying session of the 2023 MotoGP season at Portimao. The Honda rider had to fight his way through Q1 and spent most of Q2 at the bottom of the rankings, but a timely tow from Enea Bastianini of Ducati allowed him to overtake Pecco Bagnaia and secure the pole position.
Marc Marquez, a rider for Honda in the MotoGP, achieved a surprising pole position during the initial qualifying session of the 2023 season held at Portimao. Marquez had to pass through Q1 and was struggling at the bottom of the rankings during Q2 until he received a helpful draft from Enea Bastianini of Ducati, enabling him to overtake Pecco Bagnaia, Bastianini’s teammate, and secure the pole position.
As expected, Marquez’s lap time of 1m37.226s set a new record, which came after previous lap records were broken during testing, Friday’s practice, and even Q1.
Marquez expressed his surprise and lack of understanding about his pole position, saying, “I cannot explain it because I don’t understand it, honestly speaking. Yesterday, we faced many challenges, but today I started riding better, and the team did a fantastic job improving minor details.”
Marquez acknowledged that achieving a fast lap with a Honda bike currently requires a slipstream, which may not be the most ethical approach but is one of his strongest skills that he can take advantage of.
During the opening runs, Jack Miller, who had surprised the MotoGP community by being the fastest in Friday’s practice, kept KTM’s hope for their first pole position since 2020 alive. However, his chances were ruined when he crashed at Turn 3 towards the end of the session.
After Bagnaia surpassed Miller’s time, he appeared to be the favorite for the pole position until Marquez’s sudden last-minute feat. Unfortunately, Bagnaia encountered traffic during his final lap.
Jorge Martin from Pramac Ducati secured the third position, with Miguel Oliveira, the local favorite who rides the 2022 Aprilia from RNF, finishing in fourth place. Miller and Bastianini ended up on the second row of the grid.
Maverick Vinales was the top-performing Aprilia rider in the seventh position, followed by the VR46 Ducatis of Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini, who finished in eighth and ninth place respectively. Marini was just 0.396s away from securing the pole position, but he had a crash during pre-qualifying FP3, similar to Bagnaia and Bastianini.
Johann Zarco from Pramac Ducati concluded the top 10 list, which included six Ducatis, while Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo finished in the 11th position, 0.040s behind Zarco. Aleix Espargaro from Aprilia completed the Q2 order, who might have been affected by an early crash during Q2.
Despite his impressive pre-season test at Portimao, Alex Marquez from Gresini Ducati missed out on the final Q1 transfer spot, losing to Oliveira in a close battle at the end. As a result, he ended up starting from the 13th position on the grid.
Marquez was only one-tenth of a second faster than new Honda works rider Joan Mir, who finished 14th on the grid. Meanwhile, his elder brother and team-mate, who was making his first Q1 run, finished four-tenths of a second slower than him and failed to improve his time in the second run.
Brad Binder, who had to visit the hospital on Friday for a neck examination and is still having trouble, potentially due to a pinched nerve, managed to finish in the 15th position.
In the following row, Alex Rins and Takaaki Nakagami from LCR Honda will be starting alongside Franco Morbidelli from Yamaha. Morbidelli’s poor single-lap performance continued, as he has now failed to qualify in the top 10 for 21 out of his last 22 attempts.
On his debut, Augusto Fernandez from Tech3 Gas Gas managed to avoid finishing at the bottom of the grid and beat Raul Fernandez from RNF Aprilia and Fabio Di Giannantonio from Gresini Ducati.
Gas Gas will only have rookie Fernandez representing them in both the sprint and the main race, as Pol Espargaro had to remain hospitalized for the weekend due to significant injuries from his second practice crash on Friday.
Results from the qualifying session
Position Rider Name Team Bike Group 1 Time Group 2 Time 1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team Honda 1m37.675s 1m37.226s 2 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati N/A 1m37.290s 3 Jorge Martin Prima Pramac Racing Ducati N/A 1m37.454s 4 Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia 1m37.849s 1m37.521s 5 Jack Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM N/A 1m37.549s 6 Enea Bastianini Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati N/A 1m37.584s 7 Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Aprilia N/A 1m37.598s 8 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati N/A 1m37.616s 9 Luca Marini Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati N/A 1m37.622s 10 Johann Zarco Prima Pramac Racing Ducati N/A 1m37.880s 11 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha N/A 1m37.920s 12 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia Racing Aprilia N/A 1m38.136s 13 Alex Marquez Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1m37.970s N/A 14 Joan Mir Repsol Honda Team Honda 1m38.064s N/A 15 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1m38.105s N/A 16 Alex Rins LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 1m38.133s N/A 17 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1m38.335s N/A 18 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 1m38.439s N/A 19 Augusto Fernandez GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 KTM 1m38.464s N/A 20 Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP Team Aprilia 1m38.492s N/A 21 Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1m38.778s N/A
Marquez surprises with pole position at Portimao MotoGP opener Marquez surprises with pole position at Portimao MotoGP opener Marquez surprises with pole position at Portimao MotoGP opener
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