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Practice report

MotoGP Portuguese GP: Alex Marquez leads first session of 2023 season

Gresini rider Alex Marquez kicked off his Ducati debut fastest of all in the opening practice session for the 2023 MotoGP Portuguese Grand Prix.

Alex Marquez, Gresini Racing

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

For the first time since the 2006 season, a new grand prix motorcycle campaign begins in Europe, with Portugal marking the first of 21 rounds in 2023 – all of which feature sprint races on Saturdays.

Following a test at the Algarve International Circuit two weeks ago, the season began under damp conditions as light rainfall prior to the first 45-minute session of the year left the track greasy.

The weather would clear and Alex Marquez would find himself top of the pile with a 1m38.782s after a late time attack surge on fresh soft rubber.

He headed new factory Honda signing Joan Mir and the VR46 Ducati of Luca Marini, while reigning world champion Francesco Bagnaia was a steady ninth on his factory team Ducati.

A handful of riders took to the track on slick rubber to test conditions at the start of FP1, though most would quickly abort this with only VR46 duo Marini and Marco Bezzecchi, and Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco staying out.

After eight minutes of running, Bezzecchi led the way on a 1m49.000s as the majority of the field looked on from pitlane.

With 32 minutes left on the clock, the rain spots abated and the track burst into life.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

An expert in iffy conditions, Jack Miller found himself topping the pile on his KTM with a 1m46.129s a few moments later, but the order would shuffle around as the grip improved.

Jorge Martin on the second of the Pramac Ducatis took over with a 1m40.396s with 25 minutes left to run, improving over the next five minutes to a 1m39.206s.

With the introduction of sprint races in 2023, Friday’s two practice sessions have gained extra significance as the combined order at the end of FP2 this afternoon will determine who goes directly into the pole qualifying shootout and who has to contest Q1.

As such, a number of riders fitted fresh soft rubber for a time attack run in the closing stages of FP1.

Alex Marquez was the rider who toppled Martin’s 1m39.206s with a 1m38.782s that would go unchallenged through to the chequered flag.

Mir was just 0.045s outside of this lap, though the difficulties Honda faced throughout the winter suggest this time will ultimately flatter to deceive.

Marini started strong for VR46 in third ahead of Bezzecchi, with Zarco fifth ahead of the leading Aprilia of Maverick Vinales.

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Martin was shuffled back to seventh at the chequered flag ahead of 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo on his Yamaha and Bagnaia, with Marc Marquez rounding out the top 10 on the second of the factory Hondas.

Aleix Espargaro was 11th on his factory Aprilia as he eases back into riding following surgery on a fibrosis issue in his right arm after testing, with Miller shadowing him in 12th.

Alex Rins was 13th as he gears up for his Honda debut with LCR, with Franco Morbidelli 14th on the second Yamaha after a crash in the damp conditions early in FP1.

New factory Ducati signing Enea Bastianini was 15th ahead of RNF Aprilia duo Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez.

FP2 for the Portuguese GP gets underway at 3pm GMT.

Full Practice 1 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Spain Alex Marquez Ducati 1'38.782  
2 Spain Joan Mir Honda 1'38.827 0.045
3 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'38.922 0.140
4 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1'39.018 0.236
5 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'39.068 0.286
6 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 1'39.180 0.398
7 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 1'39.206 0.424
8 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'39.281 0.499
9 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'39.475 0.693
10 Spain Marc Marquez Honda 1'39.537 0.755
11 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'39.552 0.770
12 Australia Jack Miller KTM 1'39.558 0.776
13 Spain Alex Rins Honda 1'39.595 0.813
14 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'39.629 0.847
15 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 1'39.682 0.900
16 Portugal Miguel Oliveira Aprilia 1'39.794 1.012
17 Spain Raúl Fernández Aprilia 1'39.894 1.112
18 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'40.059 1.277
19 Spain Augusto Fernandez GASGAS 1'40.203 1.421
20 Spain Pol Espargaro GASGAS 1'40.471 1.689
21 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 1'40.477 1.695
22 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'40.986 2.204

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