Michelin couldn't have dreamed of a better start to its 2023 MotoGPTM campaign as its Power Slick range contributed to several new records for Portimão and the Grande Prémio TISSOT de Portugal. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) posted a new track-lap record on his way to qualifying on pole-position, while defending champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) clocked a new shortest race-duration benchmark when he added victory in Sunday's grand prix to his success in the sport's first-ever sprint race.
This years MotoGPTM World Championship got away to a flying start for Michelin when Red Bull KTM Racing Factory's Jack Miller bettered the Portuguese venue's previous track-lap record (1m38.375s) in Free Practice 2. Twelve other riders also bettered Bagnaia's effort of two years ago. In Qualifying, Marquez took advantage of the grip delivered by his MICHELIN Power tires to clinch pole when he undercut the Italian's benchmark from 2021 by more than a second (1m37.226s).
The grand prix itself saw the Italian get away well from second on the grid to lead after the second of the afternoon's 25 laps. Clearly confident in his choice of medium-compound tires front and rear, the Italian kept his head to fend off pressure from Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and complete the race 14 seconds quicker than the existing shortest-duration record, an average improvement of more than half-a-second a lap!
Second-placed Viñales (Hard and Medium front and rear), who was joined on the podium by Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), made it two different tire combinations in the top three.
Spectators in the Algarve and in front of their TVs were treated to a thrilling scrap for fourth. The consistency and grip provided by Michelin's tires gave rise to several late, spectacular passing maneuvers, and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) concluded a spirited fightback by moving up from seventh to fourth on the last lap.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Racing Factory) and Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP) ended up fifth and sixth, ahead of Miller and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Ninth was Aprilia Racing's Aleix Espargaro who was accredited with a new race-lap record (1m38.872s). The previous benchmark (Quartararo/2022/1m39.435s) was ultimately beaten by no fewer than 15 riders!
Tenth for Alex Rins (LCR Honda) enabled five of the six bike manufacturers to appear in the top 10.
Victory in both the sprint race and grand prix means Bagnaia has emerged as the championship's early pacesetter on 37 points, ahead of Viñales (25 ) and Bezzecchi (16).
Next round: Gran Premio Michelin® de la República Argentina, Termas de Rio Honda (March 31-April 2).