Portimão MotoGP Subscriber Notes: When The Rider Makes The Difference, And A Dash Of Normality Returning

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. It is a painfully trite cliché, and yet like most clichés, it gets used so often because it generalizes a truth. You may not always have the best tools at your disposal for the job at hand, so you just have to find a way to make the best of what you do have.

The current MotoGP elite know this lesson all too well. Marc Marquez won his Moto2 championship on a Suter against superior Kalexes. Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin came up through Moto3 riding Mahindra, a competent but underpowered motorcycle. Fabio Quartararo found himself on a Speed Up in Moto2, and found a way to win on a finicky but fast Moto2 bike. They didn't have what they wanted, but they found a way to make it work anyway.

If there is a lesson from the Portimão round of MotoGP, it is this. When you sign for a team or a factory, you put your trust in them to build the best bike they can, in the team to prepare it as well as possible, and then it's up to you to find a way to get the best out of the bike. Racing motorcycles are always a compromise. You can complain about what it isn't doing, but that won't win you races. Identifying what it does do well, and then exploiting that to the maximum degree possible, that is where races, and championships are won.

In these subscriber notes:

  • Fabio Quartararo making the difference at Yamaha
  • The power of the mind
  • Alex Rins, v2.0
  • Suzuki, the new powerhouse
  • Ducati back on track, at last
  • Aprilia a genuine contender now
  • Honda, still some way from being sorted

We have gotten used to hearing complaints of a lack of top speed from Fabio Quartararo. Every time he expresses his frustration with the bike, this is the point he makes. "In Austin clearly we lost half a second between the two straights. If you take out that half second, we will fight for the victory. And it was the same in Argentina," the Frenchman said on Friday.

He was reiterating a point made on Thursday, that the lack of power limited their options on the Yamaha during the race. "If you look at the pace we are always fast because we are alone and nobody is with you, but in the race people pass you and you are blocked. You cannot make your own riding style. As soon as you have someone in front, like in Argentina, they all drive like a ‘V’ and if we don’t make it a round corner, we are slow."

The worst thing is, Quartararo knows that no solutions will be forthcoming in the short term. The engines are sealed for the 2022 season, so they will not magically find an extra 20 horsepower. There are rumors around the paddock that the new, more powerful engine Yamaha brought for this season proved unreliable, with too many issues in testing. So they chose to go back to an older version of the engine, to be sure of finishing, at least, in the knowledge that there would be tracks where this would cost them.

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Seems Yamaha will have to break the bank on FQ, as he is the only Yamaha  racer looking the part-Maybe MM money ….The kid has really matured into a fine racer, really reminds me of JLo. He is making really good decisions and handling the disappointment of Yamaha’s lack of improvement on the motor……The next best Yamaha at 29 seconds behind is really a long way back….wow!


Jennifer Lopez has a MUCH nicer posterior. I like the way Fabio dances though! 


I rate him REALLY highly too. Good kid as well. During the race, when he passed Mir on the Suzuki and immediately gapped it out (he was almost 6 seconds ahead for most of the race) "HE IS DOING A LORENZO" came out of my mouth. Agreed. Sorry to Jorge, but much more enjoyable personally, and I would say riding a comparatively lesser bike relative to competitors (Morbidelli and Dovi are excellent!). 

It is being framed that Suzuki would be an intolerable 50% pay cut, and Honda is the only viable alternative...so may as well stay Blue with hope for more bike. I am not seeing it that way. If he and Ducati want to tie the knot, Martin would get bumped. If Quartararo WANTS the Suzuki, he and Hamamatsu would make it happen to have the bike to win on? At some point, it is plenty hams and there is more than just meat for many moto men. Agreed that KTM and Aprilia are out. Are there others that see some possibility at Ducati? If he WANTS it, they say NO? Martin is really promising! Potential is there. So is hot and cold.

There are TWO riders that look tip top from here, and one is signed until his hair is grey if he doesn't get a moderate concussion first. Right behind that, about 2 riders in tow. Then a gap, and 3ish. Point made, le Frenchie = le mierde. He can MAKE a program happen. Cannot overrate him. 

(Please don't go to the dark side at Honda Fabio. Sometimes things are great, and often they eat your soul at an engineers and executives power luncheon. If you were a Japanese rider, I would say go for it. Spanish? Likely to possibly). Please Quarty...Suzuki, Ducati or stay. 

I think that doing a Lorenzo is directly to do with it being the only way to win on the Yamaha with its limitations - qualify on the front row, check out early, and avoid any need to overtake.

Sorry for the switch to Moto2,  it is anyone else seeing how much more comfortable Cam is looking riding up at the pointy end?  Also hearing how well the team is gelling.  Now just a little more luck going his way and we’ll see a win a three from him this season without a doubt.  
Lastly, LOVE the track in Portugal.  What’s the word from the riders themselves?  Love it or leave it??

I'm not surprised that the word "metronomic" made it's way into this roundup. It's not the first time we've seen it from Fabio but the similarities are uncanny at times. Even at the height of 800cc alien-only-procession, Lorenzo's ability to smash out a full race with only a tenth or two across all of his lap times was astounding. To the purist it was genius. It was alien.

I reckon Fabio would absolutely destroy the field on a Suzuki that is as competitive as this years GSX. What they gained in power they may have lost in tyre preservation, but given Fabio's style and soft touch on the throttle I can easily see him overcoming it. On the flipside I see him ending up in the figurative HRC graveyard rather than adding to the trophy cabinet. Switching to a V4 is one thing.. but switching to an RCV at HRC is fraught with danger.

Yamaha need to pay him and pay him big because at the end of the day Fabio will get a seat wherever he wants to go.. short of being cockblocked by Marc at Honda.

I gotta admit that when I try to make sense of how this game of musical chairs will end up I just get a bigger headache every time I try. This silly season is as good as we've had in a long while and I can't wait for the first domino to fall.


Fabio def gave me Lorenzo vibes this weekend. Get out front and demoralize the field with consistency. 

From the outside it does look as if Quartararo gives his feedback based on the ability to use C-lines while the rest gives feedback based on the V-lines they are forced to use being caught up in mid pack. The problem for Yamaha is that they have built a clean lap marvel and not a racer.

Last year in the races where Fabio did a lot of passing he could handle it very well. Ease up giving a small gap to the V4, carry more speed through the turn, exit the turn faster compensating for his lack of horses, give himself a chance of a slipstream and in a good position to attack into the next turn. Assen was a good one. It's obvious that every bike on the grid would like to have extra everything. I'm sure this weekend the other bikes looked at the Yamaha with some envy. Good point about the other Yamaha.

No, they all want extra everything. They see the Yams corner speed, the Yam sees their horses etc. It is a puzzle. If Franco and Dovi could do better in the one lap madness department then maybe their races go a whole bunch better too. I guess so. Even Fabio would agree with that. He has often said that when he's in the pack he struggles.

I'm not so sure about carrying over the Suzuki 'rides like a 250 two stroke' legend to join with the new powerful inline legend. Horses aren't free. I think if you gave the Yamaha a Ducati level of power and torque then problem isn't solved. Somehow, they would have to take advantage of that. There's no point having a big advantage in the engine department if they cannot accelerate at a greater rate than the other bikes. Without using the increased power/torque for that purpose then it's a few small areas of a few tracks where you can be king. I think the aero and ride height devices were born from the need to take advantage of this. Very maybe the Ducati is as it is for this reason. So sure, give the Yamaha a boost, take advantage of it, bye bye sweet bike and hello a whole different set of problems.

Lap analysis pretty much corroborates the riders' descriptions of their races. Mir didn't crack the 39s until lap nine and clocked only three sub 1' 40" laps the whole race. And Mir had a lot of clean air. His teammate Rins posted ten laps in the 39s while scything through the field. Had Mir not been taken out by Miller, he might have been passed by Rins before the checkers. Sounds odd starting second and twenty-third only to finish sixth and fifth, but not when a guy does the math. Interesting quote about Rins' keys to success in 2022 over at the site Marca, translated from Spanish: "It's a host of things. Both the bike and I have improved, we've taken a step forward and this helps me to be more consistent, to feel the bike more, to think a little more on the bike. We are working in a way that we had never worked before and it is giving its results (paying off)."

It sure looked like Mir had a machine, tire, setting limitation that he was unable to ride around. That may have played a small part in why Quartararo's Yamaha seemed to just power past the Suzuki on the front straight. Marc's result points to a limitation also, he posted only one 1'39 lap the whole race. And Maverick is speaking his frustrations about trying to extract the maximum from a machine that has been developed for his teammate's riding style. Interesting case of the team from Noale. They've spent all this time developing the RS-GP into a competitive bike that can win races based on Espargaro's style, and now they are possibly looking elsewhere rider wise for 2023 and beyond? What about the bike? Are they shifting development towards Maverick's style or what? They still have concessions for the rest of the year. Are they looking for a rider whose style gels with the current iteration? How would they know if that would work? And why did Dovi pass on the RS-GP?

Maverick says he feels lost at the beginning of the race. It took him till mid-race to get into the 39s. It took Espargaro until lap six. Maybe the RS-GP was a handful at Portimao with a full tank. Or maybe it was fuel mapping strategies, who knows? But both Zarco and Quartararo were in the 39s on lap three. Once Espargaro got into the 39s, he clocked more of them (13) than everyone else except the rider that teleported in from planet 1'39.

I think everyone is trying their hardest and giving their best, machine, setting, tire limitation or not. Martin reminds me a little of Marquez - explosively fast and willing to stretch beyond the limit. But his body does not seem to weather the hard knocks very well. Marquez' body used to take a pummeling during practice and qualifying, then he would podium during the race. But it seems like those days are waning. 


I think this is it for Top Gun. He doesn’t have the mental fortitude to be a champion. El Diablo and A Rins are showing how getting your “mind” right helps you immensely as a rider. We all watched Rin’s crash fest last year. Seems like a totally different rider , somewhat reminds you of FQ’s sophomore season when his mind was playing tricks on him. FQ scores points at tracks which the M1 is not suited and the tracks where it is suited-he kills it! I honestly don’t think we we will see the “old” Marquez again. Don’t care who you are, injuries take their toll on you mentally and physically, a totally  new machine, different from the previous iteration doesn’t help either. I don’ think FQ will leave Yamaha. When the other Yamaha riders can’t even sniff his draws…then they better make him a very rich man….The edge grip he is extracting form that M1 is honestly surreal…..The upcoming races will be key to his championship defense. If I’m not mistaken, a bunch of those tracks are M1-friendly…..Can’t wait for Jerez!!!!! He (FQ) was killing it last year , if not for the arm pump and I think Barcelona was the “chest” gate……so game on …

What a difference 14 days makes. In the USA we saw the 'old' Marc again etc. Now Portimao. I think in the race it was obvious all Hondas had some limiting issue. The whole weekend was wet or thereabouts until warm up. It's only warm up but it was the best chance they had to get some running in the dry before the race. Going on wam up alone Marc should have finished 20 to 30 seconds behind Fabio..which he nearly did (16s). Marcs fastest lap in that session aside, he was +1 second slower than Fabio. USA was a different story.

In qually he had pole too.

Marc would have started at the back of the front row and that's with rolling off through the yellow. Q2 came down to confidence and balls in semi-mixed conditions and even with his recent problems, somehow Marc outpaces the rest of the field in those categories by a good margin. Consistently 3rd/4th may get him in contention but running around in 6th won't.

HRC need to get the Indonesian weather shaman out for the upcoming tests.

Ahh, quite right, he would have been 4th behind Aleix, Mir and Zarco.

6th will do just fine when that's all the bike can do. One thing is for sure, Texas was not a fluke.

I think back to 2017? when Vinales won, what 3 out of the first 4 races, and then began to falter. I remember him being interviewed and he said, "I had no idea it would be this hard to win the MotoGP title". At that point I knew he was clueless and toast.

I'd give it another 6 races, i'm pretty sure he's on a yearly contract with an option to continue...lets see who ends it, if it gets that far.

If Vinales lets his emotions overwhelm his mind, and his mind uses that emotional energy to create stories, like for example (and this is just theoretical) that the ones that are trying to help him are working against him, which may be a mental pattern of the past that is easily repeated, and he believes the story created by the mind, then yeah, he's already in trouble. Vinales said something about a mental coach. If this scenario is taking place in his mind, now is the time for the mental coach to help encourage Vinales to straighten out his head. The team is not the enemy. They are all in it together.

But i have no idea if that is what's happening. Could be totally wrong. There could be something else going on behind the scenes and all this conjecture is off base, and he and his team could shock us all with a run of great results. Considering the way the season is going, that would be right on par.

If he could get himself/the bike/whatever the problem is,  sorted as one more rider/bike fighting at the front would be better for everyone.

Maverick is saying that he feels lost at the beginning of the race in the exact same way that he did at Yamaha. He's also throwing Aprilia under the bus for those issues just like he did with Yamaha. He has never been consistently fast with a full tank of fuel and then there was the whole rabbit hole of poor starts (and poor practice starts!), falling apart psychologically and then forcing a change of scenery through tantrums. Sad but true for the most part.

This quote could be straight from his Yamaha days but it's actually from last weekend.

"When I have the right sensations, I'll go really fast, I have no doubt" he emphasized. "I don't want to change my riding style, because it's what brought me here and allowed me to win a lot. They have to give me a bike with which I feel comfortable, because I don't understand anything during the first laps. I feel lost. Then I can adapt and ride fast. I'm not even at fifty percent of my real potential. We have to make sure that the bike accommodates me and can use my style. When I'm fast, the race is already over. You don't need to do a 1'39"7 on the last lap, you have to do it on the first."

His days in MotoGP are surely limited. He sounds as if he has learnt absolutely nothing and has zero self awareness. He went from winning races on an amazing package to the back of the field, to unemployed and burning every bridge he could find on his way out, then acting all gracious and appreciative towards his new employer, to now telling them "it's you, not me" all over again. Wow.

I could have sworn I replied to this already, but it’s not showing so apologies if it ends up as a duplicate. My point was that it’s perfectly natural for Mav to want Aprilia to make the bike fit to him. He’s won a good few races so has proven himself capable of that, if the bike feels right. Which is pretty much the same as every other winner out there; they almost invariably say, in parc ferme or the presser, how good the bike felt that day, and on the days when they are down in 10th or 20th, hint at deficiencies with the tyres (or lack of grunt). The question is whether Aprilia feel it’s worth the investment, when Aleix can podium on something likely to suit a wider range of upcoming riders. If it was my business I’d probably think not. So while Mav may need a bit of a reality check I wouldn’t give him too much of a hard time for feeling they should be doing more for him - after all, his talent, temperament and particular needs have been there for all to see for eons and Aprilia would have known full well what they were buying when they signed him.

Marc is going through the same issues this season, he says the new Honda is so different that it might as well be from a different manufacturer. Is Honda working on changing the bike? You bet they are. Is Marc also working on how to change his style to suit the bike? You bet he is.

Mav saying...(paraphrasaing) I'm not changing my style, Aprilia must do something.

There's the problem.

I don’t disagree, this is top tier and if a rider is saying they’ll never be able to put that bike, whatever it’s state, on the podium, there are plenty of others willing to try. But then again, Mav isn’t MM, and Aprilia aren’t likely to tempt MM to take his place. So they either adapt the bike because everyone knows Mav is capable of winning week after week, or keep going down their preferred path and take a punt on someone else. Given there are only three other serial winners (Marquez, Quarty, Bagnaia), none of whom are likely to head to Aprilia any time soon, I can see why Mav might think the movement should come from Aprilia. (I’m excluding Dovi because, to be honest, I think he’s in his sunset period). If this really is how Mav sees it I think he’s on a loser, but I doubt it’s quite that black and white.

I bet he's kicking himself now but who could have predicted how good the currently Aprilia is ?

Aprilia must  know they're not going to sign a serial winner, unless the new rider does a Quartararo!

I think it's one race only. We will see if it continues. Nobody has a bike that is perfectly suited to them at every track like a perfectly polished diamond. That doesn't exist me thinks. What does exist is a bike the rider can work with, adapt themselves and the bike each weekend to get results. The best riders adapt their 'style' every single corner lap by lap. They do what needs to be done because that's how you win. Knowing what needs to be done to get lap times from the bike no matter if it's heavy or light is a problem and possibly could be defined as the 'feeling' which they all talk about, a rapport. I think Mav might be frustrated because he can see what the bike is capable of in the races via Aleix. He also knows what he is capable of on that bike. He's missing a couple of jigsaw pieces. I hope he finds them before the frustration boils over.

Nineteen of 25 laps, Fabio was in the 1'39"s. Sunday performance attitude or sandbagging thru the other sessions? Whichever, this was an incredible performance. Something should be said for balance vs outright power. I think the days of one rider dominating are over and the new norm will be a different winner each race weekend. That being said, Mr. Emmett's analysis-"you win on your bad days" is golden. This is a great season.


20 races in one season cheapens each one. "Yea he DNF'd but it's no big deal, still 400 points up for grabs"

I know Dorna is trying to squeeze every bit of money from the series, but you can have too much of a good thing. There are definitely some tracks that could get cut out IMO.

Perhaps, but the situation in 2020 threatened the future of the entire series financially. They need to make some serious dollars. We should consider ourselves lucky that they didn't have Marc out there guilting everyone into taking a knee before every race and scaring off whoever was left paying for a shortened season.

I think Dorna have the balance right. The schedule may be difficult for everyone initially - but the riders make more than enough coin to crack on with it, and everyone else will feel the effects of the cash injection over time as well. Take a huge pay cut and move to WSBK if you can't keep up.

You what fam? Explain yourself.

That’s some very strange, un-prompted, particular and pointed rhetoric to bring to the discussion. 

Motogp has their philosophy nice and balanced. They don't pander to politics any more than they have to. They're a lot smarter than many other sporting bodies and journalists who are all about "I support the current thing!" until the wheels fall off. 

Lewis Hamilton used his clout to guilt F1 into weekly knee taking and it cost them millions of dollars and even with lock downs still managed to lose 10% viewship until it stopped. Same with the NBA. Go woke, go broke - Dorna didn't fall into that trap and they should be applauded for it.

How does it relate to the screeching about "there's too many rounds in Motogp!"? Money. That's how. Everyone is trying to claw back what they've lost due to the political shit show we've had to endure.

Thankfully Motogp put on a good show as well and given the economic climate, we're in one of the strongest positions to rebound stronger than ever.

The more rounds the better. 

Stay woke, fam. 

For every race we didn’t go to Philip island during the nightmare time, go twice. It’s a long ol’ way: have two or three or four.

for every race we go to red bull: just don’t. Go to assen, silverstone, mugello or <<insert your favourite track>> for a double header.

Fuck the chip, I’m here for the races. The singular orgasmic pleasure of the win.

to hamilton and F1?! social awerness, batting for the under dog, eaull rights and so on. If it is I do not understand why one might want to belittle that. Anyay. just a guess. :-)


but that remark references Colin Kaepernick (former NFL quarterback) and his stand (ie going to one knee at the starting ceremonies of NFL games) to protest violence against black people. A very famous case, the ramifications of which are still ongoing to this day.

The U.S. has a long and complicated history with race relations, some not very nice.

Yes Larry, I agree. While I understood the reference and respect the principle of 'taking the knee' per se, as we see in other sports in other places, I am not at all clear what connection there is to Marc, or MotoGP at this stage. I, too, found that remark to be a non sequitur.

Hamilton is the face of F1 and did what he did to the sports detriment. Marc is the face of MotoGP and didn't. If you don't like a remark, move along.

Edit: Frankie rocked a peace symbol collaboration with Spike Lee for one race and left it at that. Admirable and tasteful.

What he did enhanced and raised the profile of the sport. And don’t tell people to move along, that is rude and a sign of not being well brought up 👍

You're not wrong WD. Imma exit stage left on this one, it's too polarising and I made my point which at the end of the day was that I believe MotoGP has their formula right. The racing is top shelf these days, the extra rounds are money makers across the board and their strategy for handling "The Current Thing" is nuanced enough to not fall into the trap of one side or the other.

Bring those dollars in and grow our beloved sport.

Isn't it interesting that those who are most afraid of any diversion from the status quo are the ones accusing others of needing a safe space? I find it interesting.

Why the ninja edit, Brian? I was enjoying watching you seethe and telling me to fuck myself lol. Perhaps you left your integrity on the floor under your knee?

Brian supports the current thing! Like and subscribe! 

It was a personal message to you. I don't understand why you are constantly so unpleasant, a vandal of civilized discourse. This is my "safe space" and I defend myself when I feel the need. You have no good arguments, nothing of value to say so I need not defend myself. I will no more of you. Have a life

The most interesting part of the whole story is that it generates such a large reaction. Like an inkblot or a word association game or one of those art noir movies where nothing is said so that the viewer is free to project onto the characters....and 53 years on, they are still trying to amend the constitution. One guy taking the knee and I have to ask why an 'uppity' pissed so many people off. That's the most interesting reaction.

as an explanation I'd like to offer you my view on this. Why D999 comments caused a little ripple might have to do with the fact that more people are becoming aware of inequalties throughout socities all over the world. And we have been encouraged to speak out about it, to think a little more critical and maybe be a bit more inclusive rather than exclusive. So when someone makes these disparaging remarks, trying to put others down or maybe even becoming abusive towards someone who voices a different view, it has become generally more accepted to call this out. In my view that's a good thing. I was taught that those who personally attack and insult, get loud and beat their chest are generally referred to as bullies, and that it is really not at all that good to let behaviour like theirs go unchecked for to long, lest they think they are actually right.

Dear daddy (that sounds weird), I completely agree and understand. The reaction I was talking about was at the time and from outside of this happy place. The fact that one guy performing one very simple protest could cause a reaction so out of proportion to the so called 'offence' says a lot more about those reacting than the guy on his knee.

The US racial divide and more generally, patriotism, is a different beast entirely. When anyone shits on their flag or anthem it will blow up every single time. In this instance it was also politicised due to the US election cycle. 

My original comment was related to Hamilton's antics in F1, not Colin Kap - and the financial impact it had on F1. Then I expressed my gratitude that our top guys and Dorna didn't do the same. Everything was done in a nuanced and tasteful manner on this side of the fence and it (along with the racing) paid dividends. Taking a knee isn't the issue, rather, Hamilton made a spectacle every single race meet until F1 stepped in and stopped/controlled the manner in which it was being put out there. A minimum 10% viewship drop during a period where everyone sat at home with nothing better to do and 96% revenue drop on top running in parallel with the pandemic. 

Nothing screams equality more than the common folk being lectured about their privilege by one of the most privileged persons of colour in history every single weekend when they're just trying to pause the shit show and just watch some racing. The numbers show the sentiment, my thoughts merely draw attention to the fact, and the reality is that there isn't enough money in the bikes to take on that level of financial impact. I am grateful for how it was handled. 

MOTOGP ran such a different gig that our "GOAT" instead literally signed a deal with one of the most evil dictatorships on the planet. Superb optics but luckily he wore that one, not the sport at large. 

That was the extent of it. All of the autistic screeching afterwards is their problem, I couldn't care less for the bleeding hearts.