Francesco Bagnaia of the Ducati Lenovo Team made history once again by seizing his maiden triumph with the number 1 emblem on his factory Ducati apparatus. Not only did he secure the inaugural Tissot Sprint triumph, but he also clinched the victory in the primary event at the Grande Prémio TISSOT de Portugal. Meanwhile, Maverick Viñales of Aprilia Racing exerted tremendous pressure on the Italian rider until the chequered flag, earning himself a commendable second place. Likewise, Marco Bezzecchi of Mooney VR46 Racing Team kicked off his 2023 campaign with a podium finish, a remarkable feat that boosted his morale to greater heights.
The Tissot Sprint served as an appetizer for the MotoGP™ fans on Saturday, but it was time for the main course on Sunday as the Grande Prémio TISSOT de Portugal took center stage. The pressure was on for the riders as they vied for the victory, but all eyes were on the red-clad racers, particularly Francesco Bagnaia, who aimed to make history with the first-ever double victory in MotoGP™.
The race began with Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) taking the lead into Turn 1, but it was short-lived as Martin quickly regained control. However, Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) made a charging comeback, causing a collision with Martin that dropped him down to 4th and created an opening for Oliveira to retake the lead. Bagnaia watched from 3rd place.
On the next lap, Bagnaia overtook Jorge Martin to snatch 2nd place from him. By the end of the lap, Bagnaia had surged ahead of Oliveira to take the lead. Oliveira attempted to challenge Bagnaia on the brakes in Turn 1, but Bagnaia’s reflexes were too quick.
However, the race took a dramatic turn on the next lap when Marquez missed his braking point, colliding with Martin and T-boning Oliveira. This accident forced both Marquez and Oliveira to retire from the race. Martin’s position dropped to 14th, and he eventually crashed out of the Grand Prix.
This incident shook up the race order, allowing Maverick Viñales to advance to 2nd place and Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) to take 3rd place.
As the chaos unfolded behind him, Bagnaia started to pull away at the front, trying to make an escape on his factory Ducati. However, Maverick Viñales was not going to let him get away easily. Viñales began to attack Bagnaia, closing in on the reigning champion.
As the race progressed, Bagnaia took control of the pace at the front, and with 13 laps remaining, he started to break away from Viñales, creating a 0.5s gap over the Aprilia rider. Eventually, Bagnaia was able to stretch the gap to 1s, leading the race from the front until the chequered flag.
After the drama in the opening laps, a battle for 3rd place emerged between Marco Bezzecchi, Alex Marquez, and Jack Miller. Brad Binder soon joined the fray, trying to put himself in podium contention and regain his position as the top rider at KTM.
Bezzecchi worked hard to protect his podium spot, pulling away from the chasing pack. Meanwhile, the battle for 3rd became a fight for 4th among Alex Marquez, Jack Miller, Brad Binder, Johann Zarco, and Aleix Espargaro.
In the final sector, the riders engaged in a tense battle, with Johann Zarco making an incredible move to overtake Alex Marquez at Turn 13 and hold onto 4th place to the finish line.
Fabio Quartararo, who started 11th on the grid, had a difficult time recovering in the race. The French rider fought hard to move up to 10th place, where he remained for most of the race. However, as the race neared its end, Quartararo picked up the pace and began to catch up to the group battling for 4th place. With two laps to go, Quartararo had caught up to Aleix Espargaro and overtook him for 8th place just before the final lap. Despite his efforts, Quartararo felt he could have done better and wished there was one more lap to improve his position. In the end, he finished in 8th place, salvaging some points in a challenging race for the former MotoGP™ Champion.