2021 Portimao MotoGP Race Result: Pain And Glory

There were a lot of stories waiting to be told throughout the 25 laps around the beautiful Algarve Circuit but perhaps the most obvious prophecy came true when Fabio Quartararo took the checkered flag almost five seconds ahead of the closest challenger. The Frenchman didn’t have it quite as easy as that gap might suggest but rode impeccably to secure a rare Yamaha hat-trick in the first races of the season. Pecco Bagnaia rode like a man with something to prove after being relegated from pole position on Saturday and recovered from 11th on the grid to climb onto the second step of the podium. Reigning world champion Joan Mir saved the day for Suzuki and scored his first podium of the year.

It was a different picture at that start of the race, when Johann Zarco was always going to reach turn 1 first, ahead of Alex Rins and a fast starting Marc Marquez. Mir also had a good launch off the line and was soon rubbing elbows with Q1 pal Marquez to claim third. Meanwhile, poleman Quartararo dropped to sixth position, behind Jack Miller, but his start was nowhere near as bad as his teammate’s, Maverick Vinales dropping like a stone to 20th place.

Zarco continued to be chased by the Suzukis over the next lap, while Marquez had a first hairy moment when he touched Mir’s rear wheel at turn three and had to concede positions to Quartararo and Miller. Aleix Espargaro soon following suit and got past the Honda man, but he had five tenths to recover on the five leaders. However, it was nowhere near as bad as Vinales’ five seconds behind the leaders and circulating at the back of pack.

Although Rins was tempted to show him a wheel, Zarco continued to lead and meanwhile Quartararo started challenging the Suzukis. Rins eventually made a move stick at turn 13 on lap 4 but Zarco inevitably flew past heading into turn 1 next time around. Quartararo and Mir waited to pounce just behind the duo, while Aleix Espargaro was pushing to keep up with the four leaders, together with a group including Miller, Franco Morbidelli, Brad Binder, Marc Marquez, Bagnaia and Luca Marini.

Rins started lap 5 in the lead once more and Quartararo soon became his main challenger, while Miller crashed out of the group of contenders at turn 3. Home hero Miguel Oliveira also left the party that same lap at turn 14, while Vinales barely turned up to the party at all, as he was almost last on track and nowhere near the pace he showed in practice. Marquez was already starting to struggle and dropped to ninth position but had a one second gap to manage ahead of Marini.

Rins enjoyed a few laps in the limelight but Quartararo did not make it easy for him and the Frenchman picked up the lead on lap 9, immediately posting his first of many 1:39s of the race. Behind that battle, Zarco was keeping Mir busy in the fight for third, while Morbidelli was best of the rest and trying to bridge the almost one second gap. Binder, Bagnaia and Aleix Espargaro were not too far back, while Marquez was steady but lonely in ninth, over two seconds ahead of his brother.

Quartararo continued to do what he does best, setting a red hot pace at the front, but Rins was not ready to give up the fight and kept within a few tenths of the leader. Mir however did not seem to cope with that pace by the halfway point of proceedings, dropping one second back and still under threat from Zarco. Morbidelli and Bagnaia also looked keen to have a say in the battle for third but had to find one second on the duo ahead.

While Quartararo and Rins swapped fastest laps at the front of the pack, Zarco predictably attacked Mir at turn 1 with 12 laps to go and the Suzuki man had no response. Morbidelli tried as much as he could to catch up with the podium battle but Bagnaia breezed past with nine laps to go and picked up the task, which proved a lot easier for the Ducati man, who quickly caught up with Mir.

Quartararo was faultless at the front and could not shake Rins off but the hot pace eventually proved too much for the Suzuki man, Rins crashing out at turn 5, leaving the Frenchman to cruise home for the final seven laps. Zarco inherited second and was over four seconds behind his compatriot but he did not get to enjoy it for long, as Bagnaia quickly dismissed both Mir and Zarco to claim second. Things quickly got even worse for Zarco, as he joined the crash list with 6 laps remaining, throwing the bike in the gravel trap at turn 10 and throwing away the championship lead with it. That allowed Mir to grab the final podium spot, with Morbidelli one second back and steadily closing the gap.

Even with Bagnaia’s late charge, he was no match for Quartararo, who casually extended his gap to over 5 seconds for the final few laps and celebrated back-to-back victories soon after. However, Bagnaia wouldn’t have it so easy to the checkered flag, as both Mir and Morbidelli were on his tail with three laps remaining. Getting past a Ducati was a difficult mission for the duo, who never got a real sniff, but Mir secured the final podium spot and Morbidelli had to make do with fourth. Binder worked wonders to join the top five, with Aleix Espargaro showing great speed late in the race to secure sixth place.

The other great story of the day was Marc Marquez starting his comeback with an impressive seventh place, after an obviously painful 25 laps, which placed six manufacturers in the top seven. Brother Alex Marquez followed him over the line ahead of top rookie Enea Bastianini. Another man gritting his teeth throughout the race was Takaaki Nakagami, who missed out on a lot of track time after a heavy crash on Friday but scored a miraculous top ten. The final big surprise, but a less impressive one, was Vinales taking the checkered flag in 11th place after his very poor start.

Quartararo’s brilliance and Zarco’s nightmare means that the Yamaha rider now leads the world championship standings, 15 points ahead of Bagnaia and 20 points on Vinales, while Zarco drops to fourth, another point down. Reigning champion Mir climbs into fifth place, 23 points behind the leader, while teammate Rins drops to seventh.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 41'46.412
2 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati +4.809
3 36 Joan Mir Suzuki +4.948
4 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha +5.127
5 33 Brad Binder KTM +6.668
6 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia +8.885
7 93 Marc Marquez Honda +13.208
8 73 Alex Marquez Honda +17.992
9 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati +22.369
10 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda +23.676
11 12 Maverick Viñales Yamaha +23.761
12 10 Luca Marini Ducati +29.660
13 9 Danilo Petrucci KTM +29.836
14 32 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia +38.941
15 27 Iker Lecuona KTM +50.642
16 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM 1 Lap
Not Classified
  5 Johann Zarco Ducati 6 Laps
  42 Alex Rins Suzuki 7 Laps
  46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 11 Laps
  43 Jack Miller Ducati 20 Laps
  44 Pol Espargaro Honda 21 Laps
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It's time for Suzuki to think about whether Rins is ever going to get it. I guess there's a reason he's not been a WC. Might be a good time to look into Frankie. He cannot be happy with Iwata and he would fit right in the kumbayah family vibe at Suzuki. Sorry Alex, this is one time too many.

It looks to me as though MM is in good enough shape so he won't do more damage to his arm by falling off but no better than that. Heroic effort today. A couple more races he'll be stronger. He'll be better off if he can control himself from playing stupid games. I would have thought what happened when he was taunting FQ would have been enough to smarten the little punk up. But a punk's a punk so...

Good racing, Fabio looks imperious but we'll find out whether anything's changed when 'THERE'S NO GRIP'. Mav, Mav, Mav...smh.

Brad Binder is a miracle worker. KTM need another of their great leaps forward and soon. Maybe emulate everyone else some more and change your beam frame to aluminum? There's a reason out-of-left-field designs don't win championships. Just sayin

Congrats, Aleix and Aprilia! You're almost there. Dovi must like what he sees. Pay the man!!!


I think you may be right on Rins, Brian. During the first lockdown I watched the 2013 Moto3 season in full - Rins should have won the championship that year but threw it away with a needless crash at Motegi. It was obvious (to me, at least) that he was asking for trouble running mid-39s to try and keep up with Fabby Q, either in terms of a crash or running out of tyre.

Very encouraging race for Binder, he was about two laps too late in his charge at the end, otherwise a podium was on.

I think Marc has a very good chance of winning the championship, unless Fabio can score big points at the power tracks where Yamaha normally struggle.

The expected was the Sunday crowd to pitch up when it mattered. Sunday racer's I mean by that. Rossi was once the master of that competence. Clearly no more. Marc Marquez, top Honda and Brad Binder top KTM does not surprise me. Vinales has another brain fade after a pressure sensor condemned him to a lesser starting position. Miller ain't Stoner nor Dovi nor Capirex as a Ducati spearhead. Bagnaia is looking like that guy. Mir is the real deal as reigning world champ. Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia's superb progress, great to see. Oh yeah, that FQ#20 bloke on the Yamaha. Superb ride. Reminded me of CS#27 on the Ducati at Phillip Island 2009. Respect for Rins for 100% effort. Ditto Frankie #21.

The unexpected. Obviously Miguel Oliviera. I presume he never lost his dashboard anytime this weekend. Zarco and Rins to lose their composure in the closing stages and lose their bikes and sacrifice a massive bunch of points. Taka Nakagami's 'game and grit', no quit. Pol Espargaro technical?...HRC!

Why are Michelin introducing asymmetric front tyres when everybody who used them last year was happy with the old , hard , tyre and in the process causing nightmares for those teams that HAD to use the hard tyre last year like KTM and Honda .

¿ orders from above to make Yamaha competitive again ? 

it's worked but not , perhaps , how they hoped , Rossi is still up the proverbial creek without a paddle 


Zara, GREAT write up! Thank you. Hi folks ^.

Suzuki's start sure looked good eh? Wow. Yamaha must surely be rushing a "both ends" holeshot device to test. Rins has Q figured, Mir still no. But Mir gets the best start award.
Miller, bizarre crash. Front slide early tipping in. Lots of crashes today! Important people too. Zarco (was he a tad off line when the front went?). Sunsetting Rossi may have just decided to retire. Miller though, we may have to say that there is a problem here. 
Binder! KTM, like Honda, having trouble with a softer carcass F tire than they would like. Local favorite Oliveira had an event to forget ending in the dirt. But Binder sorted himself and a bike lacking some of the stability he wanted. Great ride for a charging bull.

Marc Marquez P7 at a very physically demanding track is a good show. Hitting the back of Mir's bike, not so much. But the fitness question has been answered with a yes he can. It should be even better in two weeks.
Quartararo? Flawless after getting swallowed up at the start. Lovely. He was exhuberant after! Congrats. Yamaha has started the season well (albeit inconsistently for mercurial Maverick). 
Grip off line may be better next season with more use here, it is still a bit green. The pandemic may be slowing track use and rubbering in. 
Rins looked so good until hitting the ground. His style is a bit closer to the bike and less dynamic than others. And we have to note that it is a bit of a pattern he has. A tight technical left turn? Skill and adaptivity demand high. The limit came hard and suddenly for a hungry reaching Rins.

Track limit warning for 2 Yamahas and their sweeping lines. Vinales had an issue not just today, but one he says he is very worried about re abnormal low grip all weekend. He doesn't know why. But, he popped out a single really fast run in Q. And Quarty obviously had the bike HE wanted. Is the jury still out on the 2021 Yamaha until Jerez? Is the Vinales side if the garage amiss again on setup and sorting? Is he overly sensitive or willfully exerting in struggle with the bike? Cheering you on Mav!
Bagnaia - doesn't he look great?! His style and the bike, finally finding each other and they are carving well. Nice pace this weekend. Poor swift newcomer Martin was described by commentators as "recovering" from his big wreck. By the looks of him all bandaged up in hospital waving tubes and wires it is a bit early to say that, he is being treated for multiple painful injuries. The braking hand can be an important one. 
A.Espargaro 6th on a good looking Aprilia. Brother Pol retiring, too much pain from a Honda tumble earlier in the weekend.

We now return to a fairly normal season. No more double races. Regular Summer break middle of 19 Rounds. Quartararo, Mir, and The Marc should give us a nice show! The Ducati looks really good, but question marks remain. You have to think Binder is coming, but is Orange having a tire based hiccup in their march to the front pack? Welcome back Aprilia, looks like you did it! (Right Andrea?).

Zarco's Ducati looked unsettled entering the turn before the crash. Looks like the rear skipped once and left a faint black mark as the front folded. Check 1:08:28 of the video.

That turn is in the rollercoaster bits, and the bike is a bit unweighted. He may have made a mistake on his downshifting and is mentioning the gearbox. He is an interesting guy!

He thought it was his mistage but data showed it' more a bug frome the seamless gearbox. but still... Zarco told the pace was too fast to allow him to have all under control.  he don't pretend he could have won or clinched a  podium :) 

Zarco stated he wasn't relaxed when riding. The Ducati must be a handful around Portimao. Makes Bagnaia's performance even more exceptional. Jerez is a circuit that does not allow a rider to relax very much. Will be interesting to see how the Ducatis perform there. Can hardly wait! 

Zarco looked good! Albeit with some extra shakes and wiggles. Bagnaia's riding style looks "pretty" and impressive, hangs WAY off. Martin did too.

With the delayed new Michelin front the Inline 4's do well with energy drinks and balls. The V4 bikes need to come with a surgeon sponsor. It isn't Michelin's fault, they had the tire. Bad call to wait a yr? 

The top three at the end of the year will most likely consist of two pilots riding inline 4 bikes and Marquez. And Quartararo does look fabulous. If Rossi's dismal results continue, he should "do the right thing" and swap bikes with Morbidelli. And I don't say that because I picked Franco to win the championship. (haha :)

If Michelin's new front slick reduces the rear biased nature that the current front & rear tire combination create, then yeah...why did they not introduce the new front this year? Theoretically, the new front slick would reduce the rear's tendency to push the front into the corners and may make it easier to feel the limit with the front and save a front end washout. That would help those riders not named Marc. And not saying that M. Marquez wouldn't be able to exploit the full potential of the new front slick. Having engine development frozen for 2021 could only reduced the variables when dialing in the bikes for the new front. Yet, current performances indicate that Yamaha nailed it with the 2021 M1. Who knows where they would be if Michelin had introduced the new front tire this year?

I expect the mind to tie itself in knots should Quartararo and Viñales suffer in Jerez.