Marquez leaves rivals trailing in his wake at rainy Portimao

·3-min read
Rain king: Marc Marquez was fastest in a wet day of practice at the Portuguese MotoGP (AFP/PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA) (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

Marc Marquez shone in the rain on Friday setting the fastest cumulative time in the first two practice sessions for the Portuguese MotoGP at Portimao.

"Happy overall. It was a solid day," Marquez told the MotoGP web site.

"Since the beginning the feeling was good. In wet conditions this is important. Sometimes you go out and you don't feel well and you begin to struggle more and more.

"It is wet conditions and you cannot take a lot of information, but it is better to be in the top positions than far away.

"Tomorrow looks like it'll be wet again. Sunday, if it's dry, it will be difficult to choose the correct tyre, the correct set up," he said.

Six-time MotoGP world champion Marquez was 0.41sec ahead of teammate and fellow Spaniard Pol Espargaro over the two sessions, as the Hondas, notoriously difficult to ride, seemed at ease in the rain.

"It's beautiful to see two Hondas on the top," said Espargaro, who complained that he'd got "fully wet" making practice starts at the end of the second session.

Marquez returned for the last round, the Grand Prix of Americas, after missing the previous race in Argentina with a recurrence of his double-vision following a crash in Indonesia.

He made his comeback from a year out last season at the Portuguese Grand Prix, finishing seventh but he missed the second race at the track in November.

"The other riders raced here just four months ago but I was not there. We do not have a lot of reference," he said.

In the first European race of the 2022 season, the reigning world champion, Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, who does not like wet conditions, was only 20th out of 25 riders.

The Yamaha rider will need to improve eight places in Saturday's practice to go directly to the key qualifying session.

Championship leader, Enea Bastianini, an Italian who rides for Ducati-Gresini, was only 16th fastest, 1.181secs off the pace.

Spaniard Joan Mir of Suzuki was third fastest but doubted the value of practising in the rain if the race was going to be dry.

"Looks a wasted day," he said. "The important thing on these days is to get the correct feeling."

Sunday's race is expected to be dry, but some rain is forecast for the final practices and two qualifying sessions on Saturday.

"We will try to survive," said Mir.

The second afternoon session was marked by crashes, including Italian Ducati riders Francesco Bagnaia and Marco Bezzecchi, as well as Frenchman Johann Zarco of Ducati-Pramac.

They all continued, though Bagnaia, who is having a difficult start to the season, was cradling a hand he appeared to have hurt. He nevertheless recorded the ninth-best time.

Top practice times on Friday

1. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda): 1min 50.566sec, 2. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Honda) at 0.041sec, 3. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 0.365, 4. Marco Bezzechi (ITA/Ducati) 0.470, 5. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 0.504, 6. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 0.557, 7. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 0.643, 8. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 0.677, 9. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.721,10. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.771

Selected

16. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati-Gresini) 1.181, 20. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 1.395

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