MotoGP 2023 – Portimao Results

Round One of the 2023 MotoGP season produced a dominant performance by defending world champion Pecco Bagnaia, who took the inaugural Sprint race on Saturday followed by a wire-to-wire win on Sunday. He has confirmed the predictions of many followers who pegged him to successfully defend his 2022 title. But Marc Marquez, once again, will be the main topic of conversation this week after a mistake on Lap 3 clobbered Miguel Oliveira and ruined the day for Portuguese racing fans.

Pretty much everyone knows that Marquez, the most talented rider of the last decade, has an albatross of a bike in the 2023 Honda RC213V, described by the knowledgeable Simon Crafar as having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In order to be remotely competitive on a grid teeming with fast, agile Italian bikes, he must over-ride for every moment of every race. He must take risks most other riders would eschew. His temperament doesn’t allow him to back down; “go hard or go home” is in his DNA. On Saturday, we witnessed what happens when his luck holds–an all-time track record in qualifying followed by a podium finish in the Sprint. On Sunday, we saw what happens when it runs out–he makes contact with another rider (in this case Jorge Martin, whose day was also ruined) which leads to a dangerous crash and collateral damage for an innocent bystander, in this case Aprilia pilot Miguel Oliveira. If Oliveira is not seriously hurt, it is only because of his leathers, his airbag, his helmet, and his superb musculature.

We will not pile on Marquez here, leaving that for others more inclined to journalistic histrionics. Marquez will receive a major penalty next week in Argentina which he will serve on behalf of his employers. Little brother Alex is demonstrating what happens when a Honda rider climbs aboard a Ducati Desmosedici and goes from utter irrelevance to podium contention. Today may be the day on which Marc Marquez decided to cut the cord with Honda moving forward and defect to Borgo Paginale. Put him on a (new or used) Ducati, and he could easily win a dozen races per season. He could also avoid the regret and embarrassment resulting from crashes such as occurred today.

What About the Race, You Nimrod?

Right. Oliveira took the hole shot and led after the first lap, followed closely by Bagnaia, Martin and Marquez. Bagnaia went through on Lap 2 for the duration. It was on Lap 3 that Marquez attempted to go through on Martin, misjudged the angle, and made contact with the Pramac pilot. His Honda lost contact with the tarmac and plowed into the hapless Oliveira, with both riders going ragdoll and both bikes left in tatters. Martin recovered in, like, P15 while Pecco left the chaos well behind him. The crash opened the door for Maverick Vinales, Jack Miller, Marco Bezzecchi and Brad Binder.

The rest of the day saw the resurrected Vinales furiously dogging Bagnaia on his way to 20 points. Bezzecchi went through on Miller’s KTM on Lap 5 and finished the day on the third step of the podium. Behind this trio was some great racing, as Miller, Alex Marquez, Brad Binder and, late in the proceedings, Johann Zarco mixed it up. Zarco had been riding in P9 early in the race and was still in P8 at the end of Lap 21 before mounting a huge charge over the last four laps on his way to 13 points. I seem to have underestimated his prospects for the season. He seems to be shaving more frequently than in years past. And how nice was it to see young Alex Marquez fighting near the front and enjoying life on a 2022 Ducati. Miller and Binder seem capable of winning somewhere other than Red Bull Ring. And Bezzecchi, heir apparent to Marco Simoncelli, at least in his coiffure, may prove to be the best of the young Italian riders making their way up from Moto2.

Along with the shredding of track records came attrition unseen since the gruesome days of Paul Bird and CRTs. With Pol Espargaro and Enea Bastiannini (fractured shoulder blade) recording DNSs, there were only 20 bikes on the starting grid. Exit Marquez and Oliveira; a thoroughly miserable FDG retired on Lap 11; Martin crashed out on Lap 20 trying like hell to get back in the points; Luca Marini threw it at the scenery on Lap 22, followed by Raul Fernandez on Lap 24, leaving 14 bikes to take the checkered flag. This was great news for the suppurating Franco Morbidelli, who is now assured of scoring at least two (2) points in 2023. No wonder Lin Jarvis looks like he swallowed a fish hook, with Fabio Quartararo having become a second division afterthought and Morbidelli turning green.

The Undercards

Moto3 is back to its usual frenetic self. Today’s race was wicked awesome, with more lead changes than you can count, and seven or eight riders jousting for the win. Sensational sophomores Daniel Holgado, my boy David Munoz and Brazilian teenager Diogo Moreira landed on the podium, celebrating with non-alcoholic magna of the obligatory prosecco.

Moto2 offered, unfortunately, a preview of what could very well be one of the dullest seasons in recent memory, in which Pedro Acosta, KTM’s Next Great Spanish Rider, led Aron Canet on a lonely, fruitless chase all day on his way to the first of what promise to be numerous wins and the 2023 title in advance of his inevitable promotion to MotoGP in 2024. Canet has become the poster child of a racing bridesmaid, with ten second-place finishes and no wins in his career. With Canet, it’s always something, or someone, or two KTM guys, standing between him and success. I can’t help being put off by the extravagant ink on his neck. Call me old-fashioned.

On to Argentina

Back-to-back weekends start the season as the flying circus heads to South America for Round Two. Michele Pirro will undoubtedly fill in for Bastiannini on the factory Ducati. With any luck, we’ll get to see Jonas Folger or Mika Kallio or–be still my heart–Dani Pedrosa subbing for Little Brother on the GasGas entry. We will return on Saturday with Sprint coverage and the usual slanderous blah blah blah.

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17 Responses to “MotoGP 2023 – Portimao Results”

  1. Spiff Says:

    For sale: 88 RNF Aprilia. Dropped once in a parking lot. 2.2 mill obo.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SomeRandomPerson Says:

    Now I will never know if Olivera could finish in front of factory Aprilia.
    If Marc decided to sign on with Ducati, I wonder who will be sacrificed. Or even if he will take the satellite Ducati seat. I am sure his brother is telling him about the Ducatis bike.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vrooom Says:

    Unbelievable that they couldn’t even hand out the one point for 15th as 15 riders didn’t finish the race. Marquez should face a serious penalty, worse than a long lap anyway. And low and behold I’m marginally ahead in the fantasy league. I’ll enjoy it for the week it lasts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Old MOron Says:

    Moto3 was fantastic. Welcome back!
    Couldn’t really enjoy MotoGP. Too many crashes all weekend. On the one hand, there were many great surprises, like Miller’s speed on the KTM. But I don’t like seeing people get injured.
    I think the most exciting aspect of the MotoGP race was maybe Zarco’s charge late in the race. Apparently he was sick all weekend and had to drag himself out of bed in order to join the race. Good on him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Old MOron Says:

    PS: There’s a lot of talent the Brolly Girl GP. I couldn’t choose a favorite, but maybe Pecco’s team won that, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Starmag Says:

    FWIW, COTA just sent me an offer for 40% off. $59 for a $99 admission, 3 weeks from the race. Last time 2 weeks ago, they emailed me a 2 for 1 for $99.

    That seems like attendance problems to me. We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Spiff Says:

    Bruce, Nimrod. Absolutely you are a great hunter, you silly rabbit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Spiff Says:

    My GasGas prediction. Pedrobot run this week, then Acosta moves up. If Pol comes back and there is no room for Acosta he goes back to stomp Moto2 until KTM has room. Okay, I’m done.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. vassilg Says:

    Next round will be missed by four riders due to injuries. This championship will be won by someone who is fit at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Buzz Says:

    Is anyone else having trouble with the fantasy league? I’m trying to swap some riders and it keeps locking up. Sometimes it shows the X to remove a rider and then it all grays out.


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