There were two eccentrics, Jack Miller and Enea Bastianini, who, in the preview of the inaugural GP of Portugal, put Marc Márquez in their crosshairs as favorites for the 2023 title. The laughter still echoes in Portimão. The rest of the rivals wrote Pecco Bagnaia in their predictions. Ten races later, having crossed the equator in the MotoGP World Championship, if their fortunes had been gambled away, Miller and Bastianini would have been naked. The reality is as overwhelming as predictable: the Italian champion is sweeping the Ducati, as he did in Austria, and leads the championship with an iron fist, while the Catalan multiple champion, in another annus horribilis with Honda, is 19th of the general, 232 points from Turin. However, yesterday they both had something to celebrate.
Bagnaia was obviously celebrating his giant step towards the second crown: he arrived in Austria with 41 and 47 points ahead of Jorge Martín and Marco Bezzecchi, the most solid rivals, and leaves with 62 and 68, respectively; that's 21 points more than a blip on the chasers after a perfect weekend, a 37 (25 points from Sunday's win and 12 from the Sprint), or, in engine terms, two Grand Slams : victory, pole, best lap and head-to-head lead. In the two races, which were almost calculated.
If on Saturday in the short test Bagnaia already escaped and left Binder 2 seconds behind in the 14 laps, yesterday in the long one, at 28 laps, he left again and accumulated 5 seconds over the South African from KTM, the the only one who could follow him for a while; one third of the race. On lap 10, Pecco twisted the fist of the Ducati and it was goodbye to all. Fifth win (in 10 races) and the added satisfaction of seeing direct rivals drop many points, Bezzecchi, third (-9) and Martín, seventh (-16), after a superb climb from 13th in which it was seen on the fourth lap when he redeemed his long-lap penalty imposed for "irresponsible driving" and "causing an accident" in the first corner of the Sprint.
"Man, they had 15 laps [to decide the penalty], because it wasn't in the middle of the race, it was in the first corner. I would have preferred to have been punished yesterday. And more by playing me a championship...", Martín complained, aggrieved.
Àlex Márquez, who traveled for 18 of the 28 laps in third position, was left without a podium. With 7 laps to go he was passed by the two VR46 Ducatis.
The other celebration of the day was lived in the Repsol Honda garage with the 12th place of Marc Márquez, who started 18th. In other words, the first Sunday race that ends this year is Cervera's, which accumulated four falls and five absences. This marks the multi-champion's first point since Malaysia 2022 (he was 7th)... 301 days ago (October 23, 2022).
"It's three points, right? There's no secret: I face the weekend with fewer risks, I try not to have any falls, as far as the bike goes, and that way it's easier to finish the race", said a resigned Márquez to DAZN. "In Montmeló, more. It will be the dynamic of the second part of the season until I really see myself closer to the riders in front", advances the 93 .