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MotoGP Portugal GP

First issues with new MotoGP weekend format raised by riders

Some MotoGP riders believe the new-for-2023 weekend format may already need tweaking, with concerns raised about practicing later in the day than in previous years.

Augusto Fernandez, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing

As part of MotoGP’s introduction of sprint races to every grand prix in 2023, the entire weekend format has been adjusted. A key change has been made to Fridays, with both practice sessions now taking place after Moto2 and Moto3. Previously, MotoGP practices were sandwiched between Moto3 and Moto2.

As a result, FP2 now takes place at 3pm local time and runs for an hour instead of 45 minutes.

Following two red flag disruptions in FP2 for the Portuguese Grand Prix, which led to a delay of almost an hour, the session didn’t finish until just before 5pm local time on Friday.

While this isn’t a problem in the Algarve, where temperatures at this time of year stay relatively consistent, several riders raised concerns about riding as late at colder venues during the season.

“I think that maybe I will ask in the safety commission to have the one hour practice in the morning, because there are some tracks like Silverstone or Australia where it’s going to be difficult to make [FP2] that late,” Pramac’s Jorge Martin said on Friday evening.

Honda’s Joan Mir made the same point, adding: “I said that after this weekend I could judge the change in the format.

“What happened today is a good example to understand what can happen, that something can happen with red flags and we finish at five o’clock.

“Maybe it’s something to think about that we don’t need a one-hour practice, because here in Portimao the temperature is more or less okay.

“But what happens at Le Mans at five o’clock? So, we have to think about that to try to improve this new format.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team,

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team,

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro – whose brother Pol suffered a violent crash in FP2 and was hospitalised with numerous injuries – noted the importance placed on Friday’s sessions in securing a place in Q2 in qualifying means will lead to more heavily disrupted practices.

“We have to see if we can improve something,” Espargaro said.

“This is Portimao, its 25 degrees, everything is okay. What do we do at five o’clock in Germany or in Assen?

“Red flag all the time, yellow flag every lap? This is what’s going to happen because practice two is like a qualifying session – even more than qualifying is.

“Tomorrow in qualifying, starting P4 or P7 is not the same. Today finishing in P7 or P11 is a huge difference.

“So, we know the session that we’re going to risk more is practice two. At five in the afternoon in some countries where it’s cold, it’s not the best idea.”

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont and German Garcia Casanova

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