Portimão MotoGP Saturday Notes: Sprint Races, Pros And Cons
If Friday was the warm up for the new schedule, Saturday was when it hit home hardest. The familiar pattern – FP3 in the morning, including a mad dash for a spot in Q2 in the final 15 minutes, then FP4 in the early afternoon followed immediately by qualifying – was gone. In its place, a lot of confused journalists (well, at least one, myself), suddenly confused by the fact that it was not yet 11am and MotoGP was already starting Q1.
Moto2 and Moto3 had a more normal pattern – they kicked off a little earlier in the morning, and qualifying was a little later in the afternoon than last year – but after qualifying for the Moto2 class, it was time for the first ever MotoGP sprint race. That turned into a genuine barn burner, in both senses of the phrase. It was exciting. It was something new. And it was really rather scary.
The day held a lot of surprises. Lap records tumbled in all three classes: by just under a tenth of a second in Moto2, half a second in Moto3, and by a whopping 1.5 seconds in MotoGP. Bikes and riders we had written off stunned the fans. Riders we had hyped up disappeared were utterly faceless. There is no substitute for racing to uncover the reality.