Following the Asian and American legs, the World Championship arrives in Europe this weekend (April 22-24) with the Portuguese MotoGP 2022 and fifth round of the season, which is to take place at the Algarve International Circuit. Will this surreal championship provide a fourth different winner next Sunday?
Following his recent victory in the United States – second of the year after Qatar -, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) arrives leader in Portimão. Thanks to those unexpected successes, he now heads the standings with 61 points, 5 more than Álex Rins (Suzuki). To date, he has become the revelation of a championship with no clear favourite and he is sure to defend his newly acquired position of privilege tooth and nail.
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) April 21, 2022
Rins: After Bastianini’s lead
Rins, like his Italian rival, will face the Portuguese round full of optimism. In Texas, he gave a great performance, snatching second place from Jack Miller (Ducati) in the last corner.
With the ghosts of 2021 safely behind, when numerous crashes prevented him from being competitive, he is now going through one of his best moments in MotoGP. An insecure predisposition has now given way to a great solidity.
Circumstances have changed greatly for the Catalan driver since his last visit to Portugal when he ended up on the floor. The lead of the standings is actually within reach, something unthinkable twelve months ago, and that is precisely his goal for the upcoming weekend.
His partner, Joan Mir is fourth in the standings with 46 units, 15 down from the head. From his usual humble position, the Spaniard will chase a good enough result to keep him in the title bid. His third place of 2021 gives him hope. The 2020 champion is desperate to make a performance leap, just as his Hamamatsu bike has done.
The #MichelinMotoGP crew returns to Portugal after an incredible first four races. Find out the MICHELIN Power allocation of tires to tackle the rollercoaster and bring confidence and performance to all the riders.
— Michelin Motorsport (@Michelin_Sport) April 19, 2022
Aprilias´ Aleix Espargaró
In between the two blue bikes and third in the standings with 50 points comes Aleix Espargaró. The rider from Granollers lost steam after touching the sky in Argentina where he achieved his and Aprilia’s first-ever MotoGP win, climbing to first place in the driver’s standings. In the subsequent round in Texas, however, an eleventh place unseated him from the throne.
We have to go down to fifth place in the standings to find crown defender Fabio Quartararo. He is currently 17 points down from Bastianini and just cannot afford to continue losing ground. The Frenchman and winner of the 2021 Portuguese GP, will have to make up for his underperforming M1, which has not adapted well to the new tires.
Marc Márquez dreams of the Portuguese podium
Much of the spotlight this weekend, however, will be captured by Marc Márquez, who is buoyant after his sensational comeback in Austin. The Spaniard is now back on the Portuguese track that witnessed his 2021 return after a nine-month convalescence from a very serious arm injury.
On that occasion, he finished ninth, a position that he hopes to make better next Sunday. If his physical condition allows it, he could even aspire to a podium place at the very demanding Algarve track where he never won.
We will have to wait and see. In Texas, he suffered from the two-race absence that followed a relapse in his double vision problems (diplopia). Difficulties aside, the eighth-time champion found a good rhythm in the United States and has declared to arrive at the Portuguese MotoGP 2022 wanting to fight.
Bagnaia: Under pressure to provide results
As for MotoGP runner-up, Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati), he must turn things around immediately. Sunk down in twelfth place with just 23 points, he is being subjected to increasing criticism from his home country. Portugal, however, is a favourable playground for the red missiles. A year ago, he was second here behind ‘El Diablo’.
Teammate Jack Miller, on the brink of being kicked out of the official Borgo Panigale team, arrives in Portugal in high spirits. His recent podium finish at COTA demonstrates that he is going through a good moment. He is now seventh with 31 points.
Images of Portugal MotoGP 2022: Suzuki.