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Portimão a year ago: Marc Marquez/MotoGP circus

Portimão a year ago: Marc Marquez/MotoGP circus

Exactly a year ago, the MotoGP community was also looking forward to the Portuguese Grand Prix. In 2023, the event in Portimão marked the start of a particularly impressive season. Look over your shoulder.

It's been a crazy start to the season. For the first time ever, the MotoGP ball has been thrown onto the field in Portugal. There were no big surprises in the 2022/23 winter tests. Ducati went to the Algarve with confidence. At least four of the eight Ducatis were classified as capable of winning. In particular, Enea Bastianini, who was assigned to the factory team, was considered a secret favorite by quite a few people.

With the Italian, Portugal's fate began. Because Bastianini did not even participate in his first Grand Prix. After a solid training (starting position 6), the young Ducati Italian flew so wildly in the first MotoGP race in history that he was sent to the bench with a broken shoulder. In fact, Pico Bagnaia's first co-candidate for the title was out of the way here, because 'La Bestia' needed half a season to return to its old strength.

Also worth noting is Marc Marquez. In Portugal, the Repsol-Honda champion gave the field its first disturbing lesson in the play 'The Shadow Man – or How the MM93 Can Be Towed to Pole', which was shown for the first time in MotoGP. Good luck. One starting position. The first race also went flawlessly for Mark. Fortunately he was able to bring the RC213V to third place a short distance away. Interesting: The later king of drag racing Jorge Martin had to line up behind world champion Bagnaia at the start. The number “1” had the beginning of a dream in every respect. Front row of the grid and full points, because on Sunday Pico managed to stay away from all the fighting and moderate the opening match from the front.

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Looking back, it's easy to say: the foundation for a title defense was laid at the beginning. Because Jorge Martin, who was supposed to keep the champion happy until the end of the season, buried his GP23 Ducati in 11th place in the steep gravel of Portimão. After the first round in 2023, the gap in the World Championship standings between the Lenovo and Pramac drivers was 28 points.

But the grand circus performance of “Gran Prémio Tissot de Portugal” was given by Marc Márquez. With his notorious and overly aggressive style, the Honda racer, inspired by drag racing, collided with the back of Miguel Oliveira. The superhero's exit from the GP house was accompanied by emotionally charged whistles and expletives.

Behind Bagnaia, Viñales and Pizzicchi dueled for a long time, with the result better for the Spaniard. For a long time it looked like Brad Bender would secure fourth place. However, the South African had no chance in the final against Johann Zarco and Alex Marquez, both on Ducatis. Sixth and seventh place means the Red Bull KTM team with Binder and Miller will still have a strong debut as a team in 2023.

In eighth place, just 8 seconds behind the winner, Yamaha star Fabio Quartararo also had a legitimate chance to have a good season. The top ten at kick-off in the Algarve was completed by Aleix Espargaró and Alex Rins. In the first full overall award of 2023, only 14 pilots saw the checkered flag.

Will there be a MotoGP series – the review in itself was already an unforgettable event. One of 21 exciting puzzle pieces. Exactly 365 days later, next Sunday, despite the second round, the weather will certainly not be any less hot.

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