The Portimão weekend kept all its promises. However, in MotoGP, there was no photo. Fabio Quartararo was evolving on “another planet”, in the words of Aleix Espargaró, third. Let’s go back to the four main lessons of the Portuguese Grand Prix.
I. (Already) a turning point in the season?
How not to start with this feat of Fabio. This victory will certainly be difficult for us to forget, but also for the riders on the grid. From the fifth round it could be one of the turning points of the championship.
Not all wins are created equal. On Sunday Quartararo did more than win “alla lorenzo”, reminded everyone that he was the champion. And finally, the French have almost made us forget Yamaha’s catastrophic start to the season (the worst since the MotoGP era), thanks in particular to the great points won in Indonesia. Who could have predicted, after Argentina, that a Yamaha would lead the championship arriving on the more traditional circuits? Nobody.
Saturday the championship had not favored, no strongman, no leader, no disrespect Enea Bastianini. On Monday, “El Diablo” takes on this role alone, despite being level on points Alex Rins ! This is the strength of a victory like this.
However, if Quartararo has the advantage in dynamics, four drivers are on nine points. Also, the Yamaha is the third best car (if you just look at the manufacturers’ rankings, but Fabio’s results only skew the thing as Marc Marquez in due course), and if they can make progress, the opposition will not stand in the way either.
Case to be followed, but we are facing a highlight of the season. It is a certainty.
II. Ducati, still not that.
As for surprises, the official Ducati team lands there. No observer could have imagined such a slow start to the season, especially after designing one of the best cars in history in 2021.
Yup Bagnaia made an extraordinary comeback after the crash on Saturday, he is “only” eighth at the finish. The Italian driver has no podium, no pole, no best lap in the race and is 10th overall, 38 points from Quarta ‘. The form seems to gradually return, but it may be too late to thwart the plans of the former. We don’t want to hurt the nice Pecco, but historically such a gap at this point of the season is almost irrecoverable, in view of aiming for the title, that goes without saying. It is significant, but everything is mathematically possible.
This position is particularly difficult to assume, above all for a driver who (objectively) is not the best under pressure. We are only in the fifth game, but Bagnaia can no longer make mistakes and must constantly aim for the podium.
For Jack Miller (9th overall), the weather is no longer beautiful. While there are market rumors about him, he did not respond in the best way by winning at the first corner Joan Mir, in the fight for 3rd place. His podium in Austin, undoubtedly a bit bitter (beaten by Martín’s Ducati in qualifying and Bastianini in the race), hasn’t concealed his erratic form for about a year. Behind, the young wolves are pushing for the factory handlebars and Miller probably didn’t need this additional constraint.
III. Aleix Espargarò outsider?
This is, in many ways, the main surprise of this start of the season. Aleix is at stake, and this regularly. In Portugal he slipped under the media radar but had a solid and thoughtful run.
Indeed, the last few laps have been very interesting to analyze. Normally, a lively driver in action likeAleix Espargarò he would try to overtake Johann Zarco for second place. But no attack. On the one hand, because he lacked traction due to tire wear, as he explained, but we can’t help but think about a possible management of the championship.
Securing another podium (aided by the Miller / Mir collision), Espargaró is ideally positioned in the title race after five rounds. In a few Grands Prix, the Spaniard has replaced the KTM managers in the sentences starting with “Maybe” that we whisper. Its outsider every year : 2022 opens his arms to Aprilia n ° 41.
IV. Where are the newbies?
This fourth point is actually more of a comment than a lesson. Put simply, we have the worst start to the season for a group of rookies since 2002 and the MotoGP era (2007 and 2016 excluded, only one rookie, Sylvain Guintoli and Tito Rabat respectively).
Newcomers are led by Marco Bezzechi, 19th overall. In total and on average, they accumulate 17 points to five. This situation is very strange. Since 2016 and from the single control unit, more or less every bike can play in the top 5 (in 2021, 19 riders finished at least once in the top five), at least in the top 10. Not to mention that the level of young people has only progressed for years, with Moto2 getting better and better prepared for the premier class. None of the five thieves was able to take advantage of the unpredictable facts of this beginning. Strange.
The icing on the cake: the 2022 vintage could be considered one of the best three of the 21st century, driven by Remy Gardner And Raul Fernandez, authors of two gigantic seasons last year. Of course, they will eat the kilometer and the end of the season is far away. But it remains an interesting point to look at.
What do you think of this Portuguese round? Where do you see Jack Miller next year? Tell us everything in the comments, everything will be read and discussed!
Cover photo: Michelin Motorsport