Fabio Quartararo dominated the Portuguese Grand Prix to claim a second straight victory, while Marc Marquez scored a solid seventh in his first race in nine months.
Quartararo made a poor start from pole position as he slipped to sixth, while fast-starting championship leader Johann Zarco utilised Ducati’s hole-shot starting device to take the lead into Turn 1.
The Frenchman though was quickly on the case of the lead riders, moving into fourth early as Marc Marquez clipped the rear of third-placed Joan Mir and dropped back, causing a delay for the closely pursuing Jack Miller to boot and allowing the Yamaha through.
Quartararo relieved Mir of third soon after before following the second Suzuki of Alex Rins through into the runners-up position as Zarco started to struggle for grip, the Doha GP victor now turning his attentions to the leading GSX-RR.
Having spent several tours studying the rear of Rins, Quartararo finally made the move for the lead into Turn 1 just past a thirds race distance before trying to gap the following Spaniard.
Rins was keen to secure his first win in 18 months though and refused to allow Quartararo his escape, the duo trading fastest laps across the next ten tours as they gapped the rest of the field.
The three-time race MotoGP winner pushed just a little too hard trying to challenge Quartararo though and tucked the front of his machine at Turn 5 with just six laps remaining, leaving the lead Yamaha with a four second to defend across the closing stages.
Quartararo duly cruised home to take the chequered flag 4.8 seconds clear of Francesco Bagnaia for Yamaha’s third successive win to start 2021, the factory Ducati ace recovering well from his 11th place grid start following the loss of his pole lap in qualifying for a yellow flag infringement.
Mir ultimately lacked the speed of team-mate Rins to fight for victory, though was still able to run consistently to complete the rostrum at the circuit he failed to score at just six months ago.
Championship leader Johann Zarco looked to rebound mid-race and at the least secure a third rostrum appearance in as many races, though was passed by Bagnaia in the closing laps beforebeing put under pressure by Mir.
The relentless pressure and fading grip levels took their toll on the Pramac man though as he tucked the front of his Ducati at Turn 11, ending his race in the gravel.
Franco Morbidelli enjoyed a more positive outing in Portimao compared to his horror Qatar contests to bag fourth ahead of an impressive Brad Binder for KTM, while Aleix Espargaro matched his best ever result for Aprilia in sixth.
Marc meanwhile paced himself well throughout the encounter to bring his Honda home in seventh to complete his first race since the ’19 MotoGP finale at Valencia, the first time he has even participated in a contest for nine months.
Brother Alex Marquez followed him to the chequered flag eighth on his LCR-run RC213-V ahead of top rookie Enea Bastianini and the injured Takaaki Nakagami, the Japanese racer bravely holding off Maverick Vinales to complete the top ten despite missing qualifying and starting last after damaging his collarbone in his nasty FP2 crash.
Miller crashed out early on to continue the rather rough start to his factory Ducati tenure, while Valentino Rossi crashed out at Turn 11 while running in 11th shortly after passing half-brother and Avntia rookie Luca Marini for the position.
Defending race winner Miguel Oliveira lost any chances of repeating his home success after going down at Turn 14 just seven laps in shortly after posting the fastest race lap, the two-time premier class victor remounting but only able to recover to 16th.
Quartararo’s win sees him move to the top of the riders points by 15 points over Bagnaia, while Zarco’s non-score drops him to fourth overall just a point behind Vinales.
|Pos||Name||Team||Bike||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Fabio Quartararo||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||25||17||41m46.412s||1m39.472s||0||25|
|2||Francesco Bagnaia||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||25||0||+4.809s||1m39.468s||0||20|
|3||Joan Mir||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||25||0||+4.948s||1m39.855s||0||16|
|4||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||25||0||+5.127s||1m39.939s||0||13|
|5||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||25||0||+6.668s||1m39.85s||0||11|
|6||Aleix Espargaró||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||25||0||+8.885s||1m39.854s||0||10|
|7||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||25||0||+13.208s||1m40.001s||0||9|
|8||Alex Marquez||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda||25||0||+17.992s||1m40.428s||0||8|
|9||Enea Bastianini||Avintia Esponsorama Racing||Ducati||25||0||+22.369s||1m40.126s||0||7|
|10||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||25||0||+23.676s||1m40.524s||0||6|
|11||Maverick Viñales||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||25||0||+23.761s||1m40.006s||0||5|
|12||Luca Marini||SKY VR46 Avintia Team||Ducati||25||0||+29.66s||1m40.693s||0||4|
|13||Danilo Petrucci||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||25||0||+29.836s||1m40.734s||0||3|
|14||Lorenzo Savadori||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||25||0||+38.941s||1m40.997s||0||2|
|15||Iker Lecuona||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||25||0||+50.642s||1m40.955s||0||1|
|16||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||24||0||+1 lap||1m40.148s||0||0|
|Johann Zarco||Pramac Racing||Ducati||19||3||DNF||1m39.7s||0||0|
|Alex Rins||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||18||5||DNF||1m39.45s||0||0|
|Valentino Rossi||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||14||0||DNF||1m40.365s||0||0|
|Jack Miller||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||5||0||DNF||1m40.411s||0||0|
|Pol Espargaró||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||4||0|