Miller stuns Ducati and Aprilia to finish fastest in FP2 at Portimao

Jack Miller has taken a surprise top spot for KTM during FP2 at the Portimao MotoGP, while Marc Marquez headlined a long list of riders that suffered crashes.
Jack Miller, KTM MotoGP Portimao 2023
Jack Miller, KTM MotoGP Portimao 2023

After finishing second on his Repsol Honda debut in P1, Mir continued his good start to the weekend by going fifth after the opening flurry of laps.

However, it was a factory Aprilia 1-2 to begin P2 as Maverick Vinales led the way from Aleix Espargaro. 

A first-time winner in 2022 at the Argentine Grand Prix, Espargaro once again looked like a contender as he went quickest on his next lap around, which was also enough to put him third on combined times. 

While one Espargaro was fastest, the other was returning to pit lane on the back of a scooter after Pol Espargaro went down at the final corner. 

Espargaro and Vinales’s hot start to P2 resulted in them being the only riders under the 1m 39s barrier, with Jorge Martin sitting third. 

Still second on combined times despite being down in 19th to start Practice 2, Mir then suffered a fast fall in the final sector. 

Fabio Quartararo then split the factory Aprilia riders by also setting a 1m 38.8s lap time, before red flags were deployed due to technical issues with the timing screens.

Once the session got back underway, Marco Bezzecchi and Augusto Fernandez suffered fast crashes. Bezzecchi went down at turn nine, while Fernandez crashed in sector two. 

At the resumption of play, Vinales was the new leader with Martin second and Espargaro third, although the Aprilia rider's time was coming under pressure from Bagnaia.

Francesco Bagnaia, Portuguese MotoGP 24 March
Francesco Bagnaia, Portuguese MotoGP 24 March

Fastest overall in the first two sectors, Bagnaia then lost ground in the final part of the lap as he instead stayed eighth. 

However, it wasn’t long before Bagnaia put a full lap together as he jumped up to sixth, before turning that in second on combined times.

At east on used tyres, Bagnaia was quickly asserting himself as the early favourite for the race as others struggled to show the same level of consistency. 

Vinales, who was looking like one of the few riders that could be a challenger to Bagnaia come the race, jumped ahead of the Italian which led to the top three of Marquez, himself and Bagnaia being separated by just 0.013s. 

With under 30 minutes remaining, the opening time attacks began to take place as Martin, Marquez and Luca Marini all went under the official lap record, set by Bagnaia last season. 

Martin’s lap time, although not beaten at this stage, came under severe pressure from Alex Marquez as the Gresini Ducati rider went second. Mir then split the two Ducati riders after getting within +0.024s of the Pramac rider. 

Espargaro was the first rider to overhaul Martin as he set a 1:38.253s, moments before chaos took place.

Raul Fernandez was the first rider to crash before Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira suffered the same fate.

While Fernandez and Oliveira quickly got to their feet, despite the latter suffering a huge highside, Espargaro was unable to do so as a red flag ws brought out for the second time.

Espargaro, who was conscious, received treatment at the side of the track for a lenghty period of time.

Whilst on a lap that was set to take him to the top of the leaderboard, Luca Marini instead crashed when following teammate Bezzecchi. 

After Bagnaia set a sub 1m 38s lap during testing, Martin became the first rider to set such a time in an official MotoGP session at Portimao.

However, Bagnaia responded to go nearly two tenths quicker and reclaim his lap record.

More lap records were set although it was the surprise name of Miller and KTM who took the spoils after the Australian’s brilliant final sector where he gained a tenth-and-a-half on Vinales, who had gone a tenth quicker than Bagnaia.

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