In an exciting Portimao race weekend, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was unstoppable at the Grande Prémio Brembo do Algarve and picked up his third victory of the season, with his latest 25-point haul handing Ducati the 2021 Constructors title too.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) completed the podium as the race ended slightly prematurely, with Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashing at Turn 13 and bringing out the red flags. Riders ok, Oliveira also headed to local hospital for further checks.
Rewinding to the start, Miller propelled his GP21 off the line very well and grabbed the holeshot diving down the hill into Turn 1, but the Australian was slightly wide, allowing polesitter Bagnaia through and into the lead. Lap 1 saw Mir then pass Miller at Turn 8, the Spaniard making his front row start count, with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) losing a couple of positions in the latter half of the top ten.
Bagnaia and Mir had the hammer down at the front, soon nearly a second clear of Miller. The Australian had Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Quartararo in hot pursuit too, with a duel followed by a group how it was looking early doors. And Bagnaia really started to get the hammer down on Lap 7, his lead up to seven tenths over Mir, who in turn was a second up the road from Miller. Third place soon went to Alex Marquez though, the double World Champion getting the job done at Turn 1 at the beginning of Lap 12.
As things stood then, with Bagnaia leading and Quartararo seventh, Ducati would be crowned Constructor Champions. And Pecco’s lead was stretching. With 12 laps to go, it was up to nearly two seconds over Mir, who in turn had a second and a half over Alex Marquez. For the Ducati in the lead, it only increased and Bagnaia was nearly two and a half clear with nine to go.
Mir, meanwhile, was holding Alex Marquez and Miller at bay by just over a second, with Martin, Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and Quartararo a second and a half down on the podium fight in turn. A fantastic fight between Marquez and Miller was unfolding for the final podium spot too. Turn 1 witnessed Miller dive up the inside of the Honda, but Marquez was able to make the cutback work – so it was as you were with six laps to go. Quartararo was struggling to dismiss Pramac duo Martin and Zarco too, with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) soon joining the scrap for P5.
With five to go, at Turn 5, it was done and dusted for the newly-crowned World Champion though. Quartararo slipped out of contention and suffered his first DNF of the season – rider ok after a fairly drama-free lowside. Focus turned then turned to the Miller vs Alex Marquez fight just up ahead, the Aussie still leading that ding-dong, with everything boiling up for a final lap scrap.
The last lap didn’t arrive, however, as a crash involving Lecuona and home hero Oliveira at Turn 13 brought out the Red Flags. Both riders were conscious and eventually up on their feet, but with three-quarters of the race completed, the race was declared a result at the beginning of Lap 24. It was investigated and no further action deemed necessary. Lecuona made his own error and unfortunately made contact thereafter with Oliveira in some pure bad luck for the home hero.
With that thought, it was done: Pecco’s victory ensures Ducati retain their Constructor crown, and it was a fantastic way to bounce back after the disappointment suffered by the Bologna camp at Misano. Mir returns to the rostrum for the first time since Aragon, and from his first MotoGP™ top three in qualifying, also turning his fortunes around after a tough Emilia-Romagna GP. Miller too ends a podium drought that stretched back to the Catalan GP, although the Aussie was ready for a 2014 Moto3™ re-run, with ‘heaps of tyre’ ready to fight it out.
Still, Alex Marquez’ fantastic weekend ended with the Spaniard unluckily missing out on a chance to attack for the podium, but it was nonetheless a brilliant ride from the LCR Honda Castrol rider – a best result of the season for the number 73. Zarco claimed a lonely P5 in the end, but it’s a result that confirms the Frenchman as the top Independent Team rider in 2021. Pol Espargaro’s P6 was a job well done for the Spaniard, and talking of jobs well done, the rookie in seventh impressed.
Only a few months on from his Turn 7 horror crash, Martin returned to Portugal and picked up an impressive result to help Pramac Racing become Independent Team Champions – with Martin now just three points down on Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) in the Rookie of the Year fight. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finished eighth ahead of Bastianini in ninth, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounding out the top 10 from the near back of the grid.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia), Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Andrea Dovizioso (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Marc Marquez’ stand-in Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) completed the points, with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) the other finishers in Portimão as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) suffered DNFs.
One round now remains, and Pecco is back on top! The Italian has secured the silver medal in the MotoGP™ World Championship, as well as helping Ducati secure the Constructor crown. Now, Ducati Lenovo Team and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP go head-to-head for the Team Championship in Valencia. The season finale is just around the corner – don’t miss out on all the action as MotoGP™ returns next weekend!
Francesco Bagnaia: “I’m very happy, we did an enormous job this weekend. I enjoyed every session, from the start my feeling with the bike was incredible. I enjoyed the race a lot, but the Red Flag was scary but fortunately everyone is ok. I’m happy about that, it was better to finish with the chequered but I’m glad everyone is ok. Enormous job, we won the constructor’s Championship which is so important for us, we’re leading the Team Championship, another great thing. And I think I’m definitely runner up in the Championship now so we did a good job this weekend.”
MotoGP™ podium (Full Results Here)
1 Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – 38’17.720
2 Joan Mir – Team Suzuki Ecstar – Suzuki – +2.478
3 Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +6.402
Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) secured what’s likely the most important victory of his career at the Grande Prémio Brembo do Algarve and now takes a 23-point lead into the final round in Valencia. The Australian got the better of rival and teammate Raul Fernandez as the Spaniard had to settle for P2 despite an early lead. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completed the podium, ultimately less than a second away from Fernandez.
As the lights went out, Raul Fernandez and Gardner both made good starts and they launched into Turn 1 as they lined up on the grid – P1 and P2. Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) made a lightning start from seventhto push his way up into P3 in the opening exchanges too, and the Italian was soon ahead of Gardner to boot. The top three – Raul Fernandez, Bezzecchi and Gardner – were split by just over a second in the early stages, with Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) in an impressive fourth, two seconds down on the podium fight.
After shadowing Bezzecchi for a few laps, Gardner was back up into P2 on Lap 9, with Raul Fernandez’ lead standing at just over a second. As things were, the gap between the Red Bull KTM Ajo pair would have been 13 points heading to Valencia, but Gardner was starting to reel his teammate in…
Turn 1, Lap 13. Gardner, with more grip, was truly on the scene and passed Raul Fernandez down the hill. Bezzecchi was three seconds further behind, so it looked set to send in a duel, but Gardner wasn’t pulling away. The number 25 of his teammate was latched onto his rear tyre, with Lowes the new threat in P3 as the Brit caught and passed Bezzecchi. Heading into the final five laps, Raul Fernandez was still hanging in there but couldn’t get close enough to make a move. But with three to go, the gap went up over a second, and it only increased from there…
By the last lap, Lowes was lapping nearly a second a lap quicker than Raul Fernandez too, and if the number 22 overtook the number 25, that would hand the title to Gardner. And the Brit got close but not quite close enough, with Gardner taking 25 points under extreme pressure and in a fair bit of pain after his crash on Friday. Fernandez hung on in second, and Lowes completed the podium after another good ride at the front, pulling a little more clear in fourth overall heading to Valencia.
Aron Canet (QuieroCorredor Aspar Team) ultimately pipped Beaubier to P4 but the duo crossed the line just 0.005 apart, and the American equalled his best Moto2™ result. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) claimed P6 as the Italian once again impresses, the rookie beating Jorge Navarro (Termozeta Speed Up) by eight tenths. Bezzecchi slipped from P2 to P8 at the chequered flag. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) rounded out the top 10.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) couldn’t covert a front row start into a podium, finishing P11, with Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP40), Stefano Manzi (Flexbox HP40), Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) grabbed the final points.
Gardner’s victory sees him have one hand and four fingers on the 2021 Moto2™ World title, but it’s not over until it’s over. A phenomenal season finale is coming up in Valencia between the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo… so who comes out on top after a thrilling season?
Moto2™ podium (Full Results Here)
1 Remy Gardner – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – 39’36.275
2 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – +3.014
3 Sam Lowes – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex – +3.899
In an unbelievable Moto3™ Grande Prémio Brembo do Algarve, Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took both victory and the 2021 World Championship in a dramatic penultimate round of the season. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) was taken out at Turn 3 on the final lap after leading for much of the race, the Italian experiencing some late heartbreak after a sensational run of form. After that incident, Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia VR46 Academy) came through to complete the podium behind Acosta.
Polesitter Sergio Garcia (MuchoNeumatico GASGAS Aspar Team) grabbed the holeshot into Turn 1, with Adrian Fernandez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) getting the better of John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) down the hill. Foggia lost a couple of places on the first lap but the pocket rocket slipstreamed his way to P1 at the beginning of Lap 2, with Acosta 12th at the end of the first lap.
However, Acosta was carving his way through the pack and soon enough was 6th. Foggia, up front, had a stellar Lap 3 to set the fastest lap of the race and stretch a lead over Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) to over half a second, but Acosta remained on the march and was up to P4 after passing Fernandez and McPhee – the latter crashing unhurt at Turn 13 on Lap 5.
By Lap 9, Acosta finally got the better of Binder into Turn 5 and the top two in the title chase were now 1-2, with Foggia leading Acosta. Diving down the hill into Turn 1 on Lap 10, the number 37 then led for the first time. However, he was wide, allowing Foggia and Binder to get back past. Now though, Acosta had his teammate Jaume Masia with him in the fight at the front too…
Just like that, Masia was past Acosta at the start of Lap 13, then shoved his way up the inside of Foggia at Turn 3. Masia sat Foggia up, the Spaniard taking the lead and Acosta following him through. Turn 5 on the same lap saw the Championship leader then take the lead again too, but Masia returned the favour on the front straight. Acosta then looked behind him and lost some time, dropping to sixth as Foggia got back into the lead.
Five to go it was Foggia-Binder-Acosta, and at his favoured Turn 13, the number 37 grabbed second from Binder and once again the two title contenders were leading the group. With four to go, it was as you were. With three to go, not quite. Turn 3 saw Acosta overtake Foggia, and Turn 5 then saw Masia crash out of the battle.
Two to go. Foggia reeled in Acosta and a brilliant move up the inside at Turn 11 gave the Italian the lead once more as the riders clocked onto the final lap: Foggia 1st, Acosta 2nd. But then the drama came at Turn 3. Acosta dived up the inside for the lead, and behind them Binder was in hot. The South African collided with the back of Foggia, who crashed, with Garcia also getting caught up in the incident. And that, ultimately, was all she wrote for Foggia’s title chances.
Acosta kept it pinned up ahead and making no mistake on the last lap, took victory. From P14 on the grid to the top step, he is the 2021 World Champion. Migno and Antonelli avoided the Turn 3 drama to come through, the Italians getting the better side of luck this time around to complete the podium.
Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) picked up P4 ahead of Izan Guevara (MuchoNeaumatico GASGAS Aspar Team) and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) – the latter duo producing fine performances after taking Long Lap penalties in the race. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Xavier Artigas (Leopard Racing), Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Filip Salač (CarXpert PrüstelGP) rounded out the top 10.
Fernandez, Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3), FIM Moto3™ Junior World Championship riders Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Joel Kelso (CIP Green Power), and Alberto Surra (Rivacold Snipers Team) completed the points. Binder, after causing the crash that saw Foggia and Garcia go down on the last lap, crossed the line in P4 but was then disqualified from the race.
So there we have it – Pedro Acosta is the 2021 Moto3™ World Champion. A young Spaniard taking the world by storm, Acosta has been nothing short of phenomenal this season and becomes the first rookie lightweight class Champion since Loris Capirossi in 1990. Commiserations to Foggia, who now heads to Valencia hoping to end his classy campaign on a high, but both riders have given us a title chase to remember. As has Garcia in the earlier season – and the Aspar rider’s record at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo teases a highflying end to the season….
Moto3™ podium (Full Results Here)
1 Pedro Acosta – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM – 38’04.339
2 Andrea Migno – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda – +0.354
3 Niccolo Antonelli – Avintia VR46 Academy – KTM – +0.880