Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro each topped a Free Practice session on the opening day of running in Portugal, the typical sunshine replaced with rain and gusty winds.
As forecasts had predicted, rain swept across the Portimao circuit throughout Friday and resulted in both practice sessions being wet. The Repsol Honda Team were able to show their speed in Free Practice 1 and 2 as Marc Marquez topped the morning session before Pol Espargaro made improvements to his Honda RC213V to lead the second session. The wet conditions gave both riders more data on how the 2022 machine behaves in the rain having only had brief wet runs during testing and in Indonesia.
With his confidence renewed after a stellar ride in America, Marc Marquez wasted no time in showing off his wet-weather ability and he quickly set the pace in the morning. Although other riders would improve, the #93 set the benchmark for the day with a 1’50.666 as he enjoyed an immediately positive feeling with the RC213V in the wet. The afternoon saw the eight-time World Champion take a conservative approach and avoid any risks in the increasingly wet conditions.
Sensations were equally as positive on the other side of the Repsol Honda Team garage when Friday came to an end. Although struggling down in 17th during Free Practice 1, Pol Espargaro and his team were able to turn their Friday around in the second session to lead with a 1’50.707 and cement a 1-2 for the Repsol Honda Team. Espargaro was one of just three riders to improve in the afternoon and the only rider in the top ten to set a faster time. After a strong start to the weekend, Espargaro is feeling positive and aiming for more of the same.
Weather forecasts remain mixed for Free Practice 3 tomorrow morning, but it’s certain every rider will be pushing to improve their times no matter the conditions. Both Marquez and Espargaro are aiming to continue this early form regardless of what becomes of the weather.