2021 Algarve MotoGP Race Result: Scarlet Starlet On The Rise

The premier class race couldn’t quite match the drama of their lightweight counterparts, which is pretty challenging at the best of times, but it still provided some light entertainment for the large crowds around the Algarve circuit. First of all, they got to see Pecco Bagnaia finish what he started one week ago, the Italian taking a dominant victory and securing Ducati the constructors’ title. Then they witnessed the return of Joan Mir to the podium and Jack Miller getting saved by the bell – the red flag to be precise – and taking the final podium spot.

Although Bagnaia made a less-than-ideal start from pole position and allowed Miller to lead the way into turn 1, the Italian immediately retaliated at turn 2 to retake control of proceedings. Right behind the red bikes, Mir was doing some early paint scrubbing with Jorge Martin but the Suzuki swiftly recovered to get past both Martin and Miller. Behind the overwhelmingly-Ducati brigade, Alex Marquez made a rocket launch from a best qualifying position of 8th to join top 5 straight away, ahead of Fabio Quartararo and Iker Lecuona.

An impeccable Bagnaia attempted an escape at the front and only Mir managed to keep up with him early on, Miller and Martin dropping a second back by lap 5. Marquez and Quartararo closed in on the Ducatis and the Honda man had a go at Martin at turn 3 but the Bologna bullet was not easy prey and the exchange allowed Miller a bit of breathing room. Marquez spent the next few laps trying to reel in Miller, while fending off Martin and Quartararo – although the duo were not making much noise at that stage and had a reasonably comfortable one second gap to Johann Zarco. The Frenchman kept Pol Espargaro at a safe distance, while Miguel Oliveira got stuck in 9th after a very impressive start in front of the home crowd.

By lap 6, Bagnaia’s rapid pace looked like too much for Mir, the Suzuki man dropping eight tenths behind and the same gap keeping him ahead of Miller. Mir tried to manage that gap over the next few laps, but he was a full second behind Bagnaia by lap 10. While the Suzuki man still posted personal best sector times, in an attempt to stay in victory contention, there was little to worry from behind, where Marquez admirably beat the Ducati of Miller to turn 1 to join the provisional podium with 14 laps remaining. However, the LCR man was a second and a half behind Mir and with Miller sticking close behind, while ditching Martin. There were small changes in the rest of the top 10 too, a moment for Quartararo losing him 6th to compatriot Zarco, while Alex Rins attacked Oliveira for 9th.

Bagnaia continued his rule at the front, over two seconds ahead of Mir with 10 laps remaining, while Marquez was finding a tenth here and there to get within a second of the Suzuki. The progress stopped there, as Marquez seemed to settle for third and focused on defending that, with Miller still breathing down his neck. Another two seconds behind, Quartararo started making some noise with 8 laps remaining, back past Zarco and chasing Martin for 5th place.

With Bagnaia impeccable at the front and Mir out of reach in second, all eyes were on the fight for the final podium place, where Miller started his attack on Marquez and the Spaniard defended admirably until the final 5 laps, when a mistake from Marquez allowed Miller past. The Australian tried to extend a gap straight away, but Marquez was not ready to give up just yet. While that battle was unfolding, Quartararo was putting up a fight to the Pramac boys but all the reward he got was a first DNF of the season, courtesy of a crash at turn 5 with 5 laps remaining.

The cameras quickly moved from the gravel trap back to the third place battle but before Marquez could make another attack, the red flag started waving following an incident at turn 13 with Iker Lecuona and Miguel Oliveira, making a bad weekend for KTM even worse. Both riders were thankfully conscious and the results at the end of lap 23 were declared final, confirming Bagnaia as the convincing victor ahead of Mir and Miller. Marquez settled for fourth as his best result of the season, while Zarco secured top independent rider with fifth place. A late charge from Pol Espargaro handed him sixth, ahead of Martin and Rins, while Enea Bastianini and Brad Binder joined the top 10 after the late crashes.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 38'17.720
2 36 Joan Mir Suzuki +2.478
3 43 Jack Miller Ducati +6.402
4 73 Alex Marquez Honda +6.453
5 5 Johann Zarco Ducati +7.882
6 44 Pol Espargaro Honda +9.573
7 89 Jorge Martin Ducati +10.144
8 42 Alex Rins Suzuki +10.742
9 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati +13.840
10 33 Brad Binder KTM +14.487
11 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda +20.912
12 10 Luca Marini Ducati +22.450
13 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +22.752
14 4 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha +26.207
15 6 Stefan Bradl Honda +26.284
16 12 Maverick Viñales Aprilia +26.828
17 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha +27.863
Not Classified
  88 Miguel Oliveira KTM 1 Lap
  27 Iker Lecuona KTM 1 Lap
  20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 3 Laps
  41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 16 Laps
Not Finished 1st Lap
  9 Danilo Petrucci KTM 0 Lap
Round Number: 
17
2021
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Comments

The Portimao circuit, so exciting eh? You can feel it watching, so visceral. Fun!

Is the future being displayed in Bagnaia and Ducati banging out metronome smooth speed? He and this bike have come to a new place. Handling, corner speed, no bogey tracks, consistent set up, managing tires, and still a bloody rocket. Is Pecco a favorite for you for the 2022 Title?

Mir came through several riders again to start the race. Clean as soap. Careful not to attribute situational things to personal ones. Faster race pace than Q pace, always gridded behind  slower riders Sunday. Starts races well and with high early race pace, first fastest laps. Behind riders with slower corner speed and more motor. So this continually puts the Suzuki rider into apex clashes. Which today, Martin then Miller, went just fine to P2.

Has Mir made errors that hurt racers and were punishable? Yes, a couple stupid ones. Should he take note of the cleaner riding of Quartararo who faces similar struggles? Yes, and. Quarty often is gridded forward of Mir. Today? Quarty nearly hit Zarco cornering and ran way wide. Then crashed out of fighting for 6th. Mir, utterly clean race to a strong 2nd. I Iike the guy. Really strong rider. Difficult year way behind expectation in which he has largely kept his head together with a few noteable lapses on track.

Poor Oliveira crashing out of 10th at home. Orange is in a struggle period. Our race ending in a Red flag is disappointing. By way of Iker dive bomb t-bone of home hero Factory rider? Ouch. Not cool kid. 

Alex Marquez and the Honda are a stand out here. The bike has gotten more rideable for sure over the second half of the season. He is a solid rider. Beware the all new 2022 Honda awaiting. And Marc's right upper arm has been steadily improving at a good rate. First race of next season, shouldn't our expectation be quite high?

Last notes. Is the Constructor's Championship meaning less and less in this era for you? Ducati, with 6 to 8 bikes, beating Suzuki with 2? Bleh. But be honest, which IS the best and most complete bike out there right now? Hell no it isn't the Yamaha. The Suzuki got left behind. Red. It is Red. And the Team Championship is a great ride, and Factory Ducati certainly deserves it.

The future is in very good hands if it is with kids like Fabio and Pecco. Greatest of riders and people. One more emotion, the other mind. They are joined by Marc. Mir may draft in if Suzuki brings a step. I think Martin is leapfrogging Zarco as he recovers physically. 

Apparently leg pump is now a thing? Both Miller and Martin just struggling with it. Will there be surgeries? Miller got through it with physio. Why is it here, and for them in particular? What will change to adapt?

Rumor mill has Davide Brivio back with Suzuki after F1 finishes their season. Apparently "fish out of water" has been the fit. Good for us! Welcome back Davide, now how about Q and a step forward for the bike again eh?

One race left in a great season. In these very difficult and odd times it has meant a great deal to have MotoGP. Much thanks.

... better have a huge crash budget next season, hiring both Lecuona and Vierge (both of whom crashed again today). At least Vierge usually does it on his own; ridiculous move by Lecuona, especially since in the post-race debrief he claimed to have no idea why the crash occurred. I suppose being off-line and too fast didn't occur to him?

... I posted somewhere else here that I think Binder is getting a little too much flak for all this. He was going for the podium on the last lap, two guys in front of him got into a passing situation, one of them -- Foggia -- had to lift up a bit and no doubt back off a touch on the throttle, and suddenly there he was in Binder's path. Racing incident, to me; most unfortunate, especially given the championship situation, and I certainly won't disagree that Binder has a well-deserved rep as a bit of a wild guy, but I don't think he deserves all the comments he's getting for this one.

... who he hit, and when.

If he'd ploughed into <picks name at random> Nepa, or Artigas, no-one, least of all Race Direction would have cared much.

He'll be perfectly safe next year, as the rest of the field will be in the middle distance most of the time.