THE FIRST 2023 MOTOGP WEEKEND ENDS WITH ONE CERTAINTY: APRILIA WILL BE A KEY PLAYER
BRILLIANT SECOND PLACE FOR A BATTLING VIÑALES, IN THE MIX FOR THE WIN DOWN TO THE FINAL LAP
ALEIX BATTLES, ENDURES CONTACT, AND FINISHES NINTH. BUT HE IS THE FASTEST ON TRACK
There was no lack of thrills on the first weekend of the 2023 MotoGP season, held in Portimão. After the frenzied Sprint Race yesterday, the 25 laps today were no less exciting and they provided solid confirmation: Aprilia is and will be a key player in this championship season.
Maverick got off to a decisive start, immediately earning positions on the early turns. Armed with a pace that allowed him to catch up the leader, he engaged him in a long battle with the gap narrowed to just tenths of a second. His second-place finish is a proper conclusion to a weekend where both he and the entire team worked almost perfectly together. Knowing that there is a good starting base, now they’ll need to continue growing.
There were two sides of the coin for Aleix’s race. The race fast lap shows just what the Spaniard’s pace is, such that he had the potential to battle for the podium. However, starting from the fourth row worked against him in the early stages of the race, once again hindered by contact with Binder that forced him to ride a demanding comeback after losing 5 positions. His ninth-place finish does not do justice to what he demonstrated on the track, but Aleix himself cannot help but evaluate his first weekend of 2023 as more than positive.
We would be remiss not to mention hometown hero Miguel Oliveira, an absolute protagonist in the race, battling for the win until a rash move by Márquez brought his race to an early end. Initial checks seem to rule out any serious consequences, and this is the most important news.
"Overall, I’m pleased both with our weekend and with the speed we demonstrated. Unfortunately, once again today, our starting position overshadowed my pace a bit, which was decidedly good. On the early turns, I had contact with Binder, costing me a lot of positions, and then, when I had free track ahead of me, I managed to be fast, but I struggled a bit in overtaking. This was partly because I didn’t want to risk any pointless contact – I had already seen quite enough of that this weekend and I think that we riders should be the first to think reasonably and arrive in Argentina with less stress. In any case, the RS-GP proved to be fast and I couldn’t have asked for more. One thing is certain – we’ll need to be more incisive in qualifying."
"This is a great result and I’m extremely proud of the work Aprilia is doing. Our bike is truly complete and competitive. But our goal is to stay out front, so we need to keep working this way, with a lot of grit, to improve even further. In the race, I tried to stay consistently close to Pecco, even when I dropped back to let my tyres cool and then close the gap again. I tried to keep the pressure on him all the way to the end and we finished really close, but he was good at not making any mistakes and not giving me any real openings to overtake. Now we’ll head to Argentina with lots of confidence."