Motor Sports

Vinales wins Portugal MotoGP sprint ahead of Marquez

PORTIMAO, Portugal: Maverick Vinales won the sprint race at the Portuguese MotoGP on Saturday leading a Spanish sweep of the podium.

The revived Marc Marquez took second after barging past Jorge Martin on the last lap.

The six-time world champion recorded his best finish since he was second in the main race in Australia in October 2022.

"To be back overtaking and having the speed is surely a good feeling," said Marquez. "I didn't expect that podium."

The double reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia, on a factory Ducati, led until he ran wide on turn one with four laps to go and was a distant fourth.

Australian Jack Miller, who shot away at the start but did not have the pace on his KTM to hold off his pursuers, was fifth.

Vinales, who joined Aprilia in 2021 after being booted off the Yamaha team gained his best result for the Italian team despite suffering stomach problems during the week.

"Coming here, I don't know if I was going to ride," said Vinales "And now my first victory with Aprilia."

"Today it feels good," he said. "It's been a long time. It feels amazing. I never doubted that I would be back."

"We are showing we are finding the way."

"Today, I had a lot of fun fighting with the others."

Marquez crashed on Friday and again in qualifying on Saturday morning and started from the third row of the grid on his quickly-repaired Gresini Ducati.

"The day didn't start the best way with a mistake in Q2," Marquez said.

"Then we had a great start and it was a good race. I battled with the best and despite a few mistakes I can say it was a different movie compared to the past."

When he saw his chance on the last lap, Marquez dived aggressively inside Martin who did not risk cutting off his compatriot.

"This weekend we have the speed," said Marquez. "When you have the speed you have more confidence you are able to overtake better."

Marquez crossed the line 1.039sec behind Vinales and 0.83sec ahead of Martin on a Pramac Ducati.

Bagnaia retained first place in the standings, with Martin two points in second.

"I messed up!" said Bagnaia.

"I had a really good feeling on the bike, I got off to a good start, I opened up a gap and I was managing it well, so everything was going well." explained the Italian.

"I missed a braking point and I lost everything."

The weekend's main race takes place at 1400GMT on Sunday. "Tomorrow will be an interesting race," said Vinales. "A big, big day for us."--aFP

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