The first leg of 2021’s European tour took us to Portimao’s thrilling rollercoaster, scene of Marc Marquez’ emotional return
After two races at the Losail International Circuit, MotoGP™ began its annual European tour at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve – aka the rollercoaster. Home hero Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) dominated proceedings in Portimao at the end of 2020, but there was a different script in 2021.
After winning the Doha GP, Quartararo came into the Portuguese GP full of confidence. The Frenchman and his YZR-M1 were singing from the same hymn sheet, and Quartararo bagged pole position. Slipping back from the start, El Diablo managed to expertly pick his way through the pack – just like he did in Doha – to eventually claim a comfortable victory. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed out of second place, as Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) climbed his way up the pecking order from 11th on the grid – after a cancelled lap in Q2 – to finish P2. 2020 World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) notched up his first podium of the season, as Quartararo’s second win on the bounce saw him take an early 15-point lead in the title race.
The Portuguese GP will also be remembered for Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) return to action. After 265 days on the sidelines, the eight-time World Champion was back on track, finishing 7th. It’s safe to say emotions were flowing inside the HRC ranks when the number 93 took the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon.