Quartararo Nails Second Consecutive Victory at Portuguese MotoGP
Three GPs into the 2021 MotoGP season and the ENEOS-sponsored Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP have won all three rounds, with newcomer Fabio Quartararo continuing his winning streak at the Grande Prémio de Portugal with a second consecutive victory and third race win. Teammate Maverick Viñales, who won the opening round, started from the back of the pack but recovered to finish 11th, claiming crucial championship points.
After a successful qualifying session, Quartararo started from pole position but a poor start saw him slip to sixth after the pack exited the first turn. But the Frenchman refused to give up, increasing his pace to pass first a returning Marc Marquez and then Jack Miller on lap two to take over fourth place. He then executed a perfect pass on 2020 Champion, Joan Mir, to join the leading group.
The battle for victory continued with a pass on Johann Zarco, which Quartararo was able to maintain despite the phenomenal speed of the Ducati rider on the pit straight. With Álex Rinz his only obstacle to first place, Quartararo bided his time before striking on lap 17. And while Rins stayed close behind, the Yamaha’s blistering pace eventually proved too much for him. With seven laps left, Rins crashed out, leaving El Diablo untouchable for the remainder of the race, giving him the win by almost 5sec over second place!
“What a fast race pace!” said Quartararo. “I went into this race full of confidence thanks to my practice sessions, and was running about half-a-second off my qualifying lap, so it felt amazing. It’s a great way to celebrate my upcoming birthday!”
Viñales didn’t have the greatest start from P12, completing lap one in 20th position, and it became worse on the third lap when he fell to last. Regardless, the Spaniard knows how to make a comeback, and he fought to gain ground, steadily improving his pace to climb the order. At the halfway stage, his rhythm improved greatly, finishing in 11th place but 23.761sec behind teammate Quartararo.
“To go from winning in Qatar to not being able to finish in the Top 10 has been frustrating,” Viñales said. “We’ll take time to analyze what’s going wrong so we can make changes for Jerez, which is a good track for us. I’m going to focus on the future and get back on track.”
Following the results of the Portuguese GP, Quartararo leads the championship standings with 61 points, and Viñales’ damage limitation meant he remained in third with 41 points. Yamaha leads the manufacturer standings with 75 points, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP also remains in first with 102 points.
The MotoGP paddock heads to Spain for the fourth round, the Gran Premio de España at Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto from April 30 through May 2, 2021.