Gulf Today

Quartararo wins Portuguese GP, Marquez finishes 7th on comeback


PORTIMAO: Fabio Quartararo won his second consecutiv­e race when he took the Portuguese Motogp on Sunday, with six-time champion Marc Marquez seventh in his first race back ater nine months out, a performanc­e which let him in tears and ‘exhausted’.

“I feel full of confidence,” said French Yamaha rider Quartararo, who started last season strongly only to fade out of contention.

Italian Francesco Bagnaia on a Ducati was second with Spanish world champion Joan Mir of Suzuki third.

Franco Morbidelli ( Yamaha-srt) and South African Brad Binder (KTM) completed the top five.

Marquez’s seventh-placed finish came on his return ater three bouts of surgery on the right arm he broke in the 2020 opener at Jerez.

He qualified on the second row and admited on Saturday that he was “going to suffer” ater such a long time away from racing.

Unsurprisi­ngly, the 28-year-old ended up “exhausted” on Sunday but above all ‘ very moved’ to “feel like a Motogp rider again”, even shedding a few tears in the Honda garage.

“Finishing just 13 seconds behind Quartararo is incredible,” he said.

Quartararo’s compatriot Johann Zarco (Ducati-pramac), who had led the riders’ standings before Sunday’s race, crashed out on lap 20 while challengin­g for the podium ater leading in the early stages.

That allowed Quartararo to take a 15-point lead in the overall standings ater three races.

Despite a poor start from pole position, Quartararo patiently climbed back up to take the lead on the ninth of the 25 laps.

He benefited from the crash of his most threatenin­g rival, Spain’s Alex Rins (Suzuki), on lap 19, and steadily extended his lead to take the win by 4.809sec.

“Now we know what we need to work to feel fast. What pace. I was riding easy but still making a gap to Paco,” said Quartararo, who turns 22 on Tuesday.

“It will be a great celebratio­n for my birthday in two days.”

Starting from 11th, Bagnaia said his aim “was to finish in the top five”.

“I overtook a lot of riders,” he said. “I’m very happy to be second.”

Mir gained his first podium of the season. “Really difficult race,” he said. “So fast, also so hot.”

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