A complicated afternoon session saw Joan Mir and Marc Marquez work to keep their places in the combined top ten, ultimately missing out by just a few tenths in the hyper-competitive MotoGP field.
The sound of MotoGP returned in earnest as round one of the 2023 World Championship season got underway in Portimao. A return to Europe for the first race of the year, fans were already lining the stands of the circuit as the premier class rolled out for Free Practice 1 just before 11:00 Local Time.
Spits of rain in the morning session would send the majority of the field back to their garages after only a few laps as they waited for the conditions to improve. After setup adjustments to suit the conditions, both Joan Mir and Marc Marquez returned to the track to make the most of the remaining track time.
Ending the morning in second place with a 1’38.827, the newest addition to the Repsol Honda Team was able to impress immediately as he led a strong session for the Honda RC213V. In the afternoon, Mir was again able to end the day as the fastest Honda – claiming 12th place with a best lap of 1’38.394. Just over 0.1s saw the double World Champion miss out on a combined top ten spot on his Honda Grand Prix debut, the #36 poised to fight for one of the two transfer spots in Q1. A crash during Free Practice 2 saw Mir walk away without serious consequence.
Marc Marquez’s day followed a similar pattern as he finished the morning inside the top ten before improving his time by over a second to a 1’38.419. Unfortunately, his improvements were not enough and finished the day as the 14th fastest rider, a harmless fall in the final minutes of the session ending his last chance of improvements.
Saturday will not only see the classic battle for pole position, but also the debut of the MotoGP Sprint – a shortened 12 lap race where riders will battle for half points.