Martín overwhelms, Márquez and Bagnaia collide and Acosta takes the podium in a fast-paced Portuguese GP | Motorcycling | Sports

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Jorge Martín has been feeling for two seasons now that he has deserved enough to join the official Ducati team. In his third and final attempt, he has started better than ever, emerging from the second weekend of competition in 2024 as the championship leader. After sweeping the Portuguese GP this Sunday, taking the lead in the first corner after starting third, the 26-year-old from Madrid seems to have found the perseverance that he asked of himself after narrowly missing the crown last year. The Pramac driver is the only one who has not left the podium yet, and after a thrilling end to the race he was accompanied by Enea Bastianini, who occupies the position that the Madrid native longs for, and the rookie Pedro Acosta, the third youngest driver of history in getting on the box at 19 years old.

“I took out the hammer, showing my pace lap by lap, winning again is fantastic,” celebrated the leader of the competition. It is his sixth victory in MotoGP, and another reminder to the factory that he wants to wear red, in 2025. “I have already demonstrated what I had to prove, and I will continue to demonstrate,” boasted the one from San Sebastián de los Reyes.

The explosive outcome woke up the spectators from their lethargy, saved by the audacity of Acosta, the debutant of GasGas, who unknowingly opened the canopy of thunder at Ducati with his overtaking of the champion Pecco Bagnaia five laps from the end. After a long chase, the Murcian hunted down the number one after easily overtaking his two KTM teammates and the eight-time world champion, Marc Márquez. It is the second time he has overtaken him in two grand prix. The new member of the Ducati family, however, stuck to Mazarrón’s ‘Tiburón’ and smelled blood when he saw himself behind the defender of the crown.

Márquez hit him with the bike on two occasions with a maneuver to the limit, the same one he used on Martín on the previous day to take second place in the ‘sprint’. This Sunday he bordered on tragedy in the first, and in the second he went a little long, blocking Bagnaia’s pass three laps from the end. When he tried to close the trajectory, there was the red Ducati of the current champion: the impact of the helmet on the fairing destabilized both pilots, who fell to the ground, opening the first crisis of lieutenants within the factory that marks the step in the queen category.

There was fussing, moaning and considerable anger from number one, visibly upset with the aggressiveness of the new and uncomfortable member of the family. Since his arrival, all those responsible for the Borgo Panigale brand have feared this moment, which has come in the second of 21 grand prix. Márquez, a master when it comes to tickling his rivals, shook up the corral the first time he came face to face with the ‘rosso’ rooster. Bagnaia abandoned, eyes glassy once in the garage, still in disbelief. And although he was able to recover the Gresini from the gravel, the Catalan crossed the finish line sixteenth and ended the weekend accumulating four falls in three days. The stewards studied the action of the controversy and ruled out any sanction: racing and a good punishment: going home without points.

As if that were not enough, there was still one last twist in the roller coaster, literal and figurative, of Portimao. The gear change on the Aprilia of Maverick Viñales, winner of the ‘sprint’ on Saturday, said enough in the last step across the finish line and sent him to the ground on the final lap, snatching away a podium with which he would have completed his best race weekend in over three years. The technical failure boosted Bastianini, Bagnaia’s teammate, to second place after starting on pole, and handed the podium on a plate to Acosta. The kid aspires to become the youngest rider in MotoGP history to take victory. He has until the tenth round of the course in Germany to achieve it and beat Marc Márquez, one of the few who holds up in the comparisons. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we already have the first one in the bag,” celebrated the debutant after recovering five places in the race, being the great entertainer of the race as he already was in his debut in Qatar.

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