For the first time since his retirement at the end of last year, Valentino Rossi is back in the MotoGP paddock.
From the garage of his own Mooney VR46 Racing Team, where Luca Marini and youngster Marco Bezzecchi compete, the seven-time premier class winner watched Free Practice 3 at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Rossi retired from motorcycle racing after 26 years of grand prix competition and has now switched to full-time car racing, driving a GT3 Audi for Team WRT in the GT World Challenge Europe.
So far today at Portimao, Rossi witnessed Bezzecchi highside from his year-old Ducati at Turn 1 with five minutes left in FP3, as rain continued to wreak havoc on the riders.
Despite this, the 23-year-old will start Qualifying 2 later this afternoon (local time), after clocking a 1:51.136s in Friday’s first practise session, good for ninth on the combined scorecard ahead of FP4.
Marini on his GP22-spec Desmosedici finished 16th in combined times, requiring him to compete in Qualifying 1, where he will be joined by a number of renowned names.
Enea Bastianini, the championship leader, was just 19th fastest on his Ducati Desmosedici GP21, according to Gresini Racing.
Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati), Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), and 2021 Moto2 champion Remy Gardner all failed to make the top ten on combined times (Tech3 KTM).
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM), Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar), Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) courtesy of his Friday benchmark, Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda), Bezzecchi, Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), and Jack Miller(Ducati Lenovo Team) are among the riders who made fast lap times in the session.
Marc Marquez was one among the early crashers in the session, having a highside at Turn 8, but he returned after repairing his first bike.