MotoGP: Viñales tastes victory again, Márquez makes a masterful comeback in Portugal | Motorcycling | Sports

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Maverick Viñales had been waiting for this moment for more than three years. His first victory with Aprilia, after leaving Yamaha through the back door after hitting rock bottom on a personal and sporting level in 2021, has been a long time coming. He finally arrived in the sprint race of the Portuguese GP. The rider from Roses, at 29 years old, becomes the first rider in the MotoGP era to win with three different factories, although this statistic will only be official when he manages to win on a Sunday. Things about the modernization of the format and the fine print of the record book. It was the least important thing to him after taking off the gorilla mask that he used as a celebration in the parc ferme.

“We will try in every race,” Mack smiled, when asked about the opportunity to write his name in history. “It’s been a good weekend, I’m very happy with the team’s work. Here I am finding myself again,” he noted. The secret to this resurgence of Viñales is looking to the future with several nods to the past. He wears an old specification of the Noale machine, after rejecting the 2024 version that his teammate Aleix Espargaró does, and the reunion with his first technician in the premier category, in 2015, has allowed him to regain full confidence within his team. garage. With Manu Cazeaux, in 2016, he won for the first time in MotoGP and established one of those relationships that transcends the tracks: “I blindly trust him, he understands my natural potential and I can work without talking so much, just making an effort to give full throttle.”

Massimo Rivola, head of the Italian project, was the first to hug him amid the ecstasy of all the members of the factory in Portimao. “I want to thank Aprilia and those at home, who know how much I suffer and work, and how little I eat to be at this weight,” added the Catalan. Each kilo lost improves tire wear control and traction during acceleration, and both he and Espargaró have pushed this winter to be at the limit of what is human.

An error by Pecco Bagnaia, championship leader and defending champion, opened the door this Saturday for his three pursuers to fight for victory. Four laps from the end, the Ducati leader had a scare at the end of the straight and the bike shook him like an enraged wild horse. He saved the fall and went long, avoiding the worst scenario, but he went from leading with a second advantage to being more than two away from the podium. Viñales, second on the grid, having finally solved his problems at the starts, one of his pending issues with the Italian bike, had a great time playing cat and mouse with Marc Márquez and Jorge Martín, his two companions on the podium.

Márquez is already the best Ducati

“I had a great time with Marc, I had fun. I liked it, it was a psychological battle, first with Pecco and then with those behind, and I felt very strong,” stated the winner. Eighth on the grid after suffering his second crash with the Ducati in his first attempt at a fast lap, Márquez was the other main protagonist of the race. The eight-time world champion, undoubtedly much more comfortable on his new bike and sharpening his knife again, climbed four positions after the start and did not hesitate to tear off Viñales’ stickers. In the second lap, he was third after unceremoniously overtaking the Aprilia rider to climb onto the podium.

Rins, Binder and Di Giannantonio fell behind, and shortly after a crash by Márquez on the fifth lap allowed Viñales to regain the preferred position and begin his pursuit of the defending champion, who had already escaped. When number one fell, he was clearer than ever: “This is my moment, press, press.” Martín, runner-up last year, also said his thing and at the halfway point of the race he gave the 93 an axe, challenging him to another head-to-head between Ducatis. The last Marc laughed, on the last lap, with another pass at the limit, kissing his rival in the maneuver. On his eleventh day on the back of a Ducati satellite, the man from Cervera managed to finish as the best rider at the Bologna factory.

“The most important thing this weekend is that I have speed. This is another movie, and it calms me down,” analyzed Gresini’s after a great comeback. His smile gave him away. “Yesterday I made a mistake, in qualifying another, and today I was lucky at the start. I still have a long way to go, but this weekend is being something else,” he added. The wolf begins to take off his sheepskin.

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