Motor Sports

Bagnaia seeks 20th MotoGP win in Portugal

Portimao, Portugal: World champion Francesco Bagnaia targets his 20th MotoGP victory at this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix, two weeks after his Ducati team dominated the season-opener in Qatar.

Bagnaia has already triumphed on the Algarve circuit in 2021 and 2023 and will be heavy favourite again for Sunday's race.

"It's a circuit that I really like and where we have always been fast in the past," he said.

"Last season I won the sprint race and the Grand Prix and we have the potential to do well again this year. It won't be easy, I expect strong competition because many riders could fight for victory here."

In Qatar, Ducati placed six of their eight motorcycles in the top seven, with only South African Brad Binder on a KTM managing to break the stranglehold in second place.

Last year's championship runner-up Jorge Martin, of the Ducati-Pramac team, was third in Qatar where he won the Saturday sprint and took pole position.

However, he has been cursed by misfortune on the Portimao track in the past, crashing out twice and only so far managing a best finish of seventh place.

"The pace was good in Qatar so we are confident," said the Spaniard.

"I just hope to have better sensations on the bike but I am convinced that we will find a way to achieve it."

Compatriot and six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez will race just his second weekend aboard a Ducati-Gresini after spending his entire premier class career with Honda.

Marquez was an impressive fourth in Qatar on his debut for his new team and is chasing a first podium with the Italian manufacturer.

"We'll see where we stand. I still have work to do because I need to understand how to use the full potential of the bike," said Marquez.

He will share the spotlight this weekend with rookie and fellow Spaniard Pedro Acosta, who impressed in Qatar on his MotoGP debut.

Eighth on the grid, Acosta pulled off a series of daring overtakes and fought shoulder to shoulder with the sport's marquee names before slipping back to a ninth-place finish.

"Portimao is one of my favourite circuits so I'm sure it will be a good weekend but I have to continue to learn," the Spanish hopeful stressed on Thursday.

Cool weather in Portugal could play a role. There was heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday although the paddock may be spared downpours this weekend.

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