Marquez tops first practice of key MotoGP weekend

Marc Marquez set the pace in the opening MotoGP practice session of what he sees as a crucial Portuguese Grand Prix weekend at Portimao.

The second round of the 2024 MotoGP season – and Marquez’s second round on Ducati – is expected to demonstrate whether Marquez has a lingering weakness to overcome with his 2023-spec Desmosedici bike.

Marquez had said during the pre-season that he was concerned about how many laps it was taking him to get up to frontrunning pace at a track. This wasn’t a factor in the Qatar opener – as it was preceded by two days of testing at the track – but it is a relevant question for Portimao.

For now, the answer to that question is a positive one for Marquez, though the practice session he’d topped as an unconventional one.

The track was hit by overnight mud rain that created what tyre supplier Michelin’s MotoGP boss Piero Taramasso described as “quite bad” track conditions.

The Moto3 practice was effectively a write-off and MotoE ran at very gingerly pace, though the track did get better for Moto2 and continued to improve throughout the MotoGP session.

A last-gasp improvement from Marquez. a known low-grip master, to snatch first place from KTM’s Brad Binder left the benchmark at 1m40.484s – two seconds off the corresponding session from last year.

Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, who the team says has been dealing with a bout of gastroenteritis, moved past Binder late on, too, for second place.

Binder’s team-mate Jack Miller made it a KTM 3-4 behind the South African, while Franco Morbidelli began his weekend at a track where a brutal road bike crash ruined his 2024 pre-season with an assured fifth place.

The entire split was split by 1.598s in the end.


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