The champion is back
Marc Márquez is excited after finishing seventh on his return
The third race of the season, held at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, will be remembered as the one in which Marc Márquez joined his teammate Pol Espargaró, returning to the competition after nine long months away from the track, due to the humerus fracture he suffered in his right arm last season.
265 days after his last appearance with the Repsol Honda Team, all eyes were on the eight-time world champion, who returned to the championship calmly, although eager to get back on track in this third round of the year. The Catalan rider finished third on the Friday morning session, and what is more important, very satisfied with the recovery and the physical condition that he demonstrated during the session. The afternoon session helped Marc to get a sixth position and with more security to continue riding for the rest of the weekend.
Pol Espargaró, on his part, was able to adapt to the conditions demanded by the track, finishing FP1 in fourth place. The second practice session of the day started well for the Granollers rider, who remained in the top ten for much of the session. Unfortunately, he fell to 12th place in the final minutes.
The random rains that fell on Friday in Portimao turned into a clear sky on Saturday, giving the riders the opportunity to race in ideal conditions. Both Pol and Marc got off to a good start in the third practice sessions of the weekend, with Espargaró in the top ten and Márquez just a few tenths behind. However, a red flag, the result of a crash by Jorge Martín, made both riders unable to improve the time they had set so far.
Q1 made it clear that Marc was back ready to fight for the title, although his team missed no opportunity to collect data to continue evaluating his physical condition. Ultimately, he managed to beat the competition, setting a time of 1'39.253, his fastest lap up to that point. Márquez spent most of Q2 regaining his strength, starting only at the end to run a single lap, thanks to which he set the sixth fastest time, securing a second row spot on the grid on his return to MotoGP.
Pol was not so lucky, as he finished the fourth free practice with a severe pain in his hip. Despite the pain, Espargaró wanted to fight in Q1, in which he took fourth place, allowing him to line up 14th on the starting grid for the following day's race.
The sun was shining again on Sunday in the Algarve, as the riders prepared to fight in the third round of the season. When the lights went out, Marc shot to the top, immediately placing himself within the top three. However, the Cervera rider, still recovering, was forced to lower the intensity as the race time progressed.
Márquez met his goal of finishing all 25 laps, but not only that, he managed to cross the finish line in seventh place, clinching the first nine points of the season. At the end of the race, Marc entered the team box while being applauded and visibly emotional after the incredible effort put into the entire race.
Pol's performance was immediately compromised, due to a technical problem with the rear brake that forced him to return to the box and leave the track. The Catalan rider hopes to have a bit more luck in two weeks, when the riders arrive to Spain ready to compete in the fourth round of the season, which will be raced at the Jerez Circuit on May 2.