Quartararo wins Portuguese MotoGP with 'exhausted' Marquez seventh on comeback

Portimao (Portugal) (AFP) –


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 after nine months out, a performance which left 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 after three bouts of surgery on the right arm he broke in the 2020 opener at Jerez.

He qualified on the second row and admitted on Saturday that he was "going to suffer" after 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 after leading in the early stages.

That allowed Quartararo to take a 15-point lead in the overall standings after 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 benefitted 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."

Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), winner of the first race of the season in Qatar, was only 11th after a poor start.

Italian Valentino Rossi, who has been struggling since the beginning of the year and his arrival at Yamaha satellite team SRT from the Japanese factory team, also fell.

Spaniard Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac), who injured his right hand and ankle in a heavy crash on Saturday, missed the race and will undergo surgery in Barcelona.

- Joy for 16-year-old -

Spain's Raul Fernandez, on a Kalex, claimed his maiden Moto2 victory ahead of compatriot Aron Canet on a Boscoscuro with fellow Kalex rider Remy Gardner of Australia in third.

Gardner leads the world championship after three rounds, four points ahead of Fernandez.

Meanwhile, Spanish 16-year-old Pedro Acosta took his second straight Moto3 win.

Acosta, on a KTM, held off Italian 20-year-old Dennis Foggia of Honda on the final lap. Another Italian Honda rider, Andrea Migno was third.

Acosta extended his lead at the top of the world championship to 31 points after his first three Moto3 races.

He won in Qatar on April 4 and also finished second in the season-opener on the same Doha track a week earlier.