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Morbidelli Shines in the Portuguese Sun

Morbidelli Shines in the Portuguese Sun

Franco Morbidelli fourth at Portimão; Valentino Rossi crashes out.

In a MotoGP race of attrition at Portimão, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli’s strong performance earned him fourth, and top Independent Team Rider honours. Unfortunately, Team-mate Valentino Rossi’s PortugueseGP came to an early end on lap 15, cutting short a great comeback ride.

Morbidelli lost two places on the race start, before losing one more to end the first lap in eighth. The Italian was quick to recover and settle into a good rhythm, moving into fifth on lap seven. With the track temperature reaching 42C, Morbidelli’s choice to use the hard rear tyre helped him maintain his pace and saw him move into fourth on lap 20, before mounting a podium challenge in the closing laps for second and third position. Ultimately it proved to be out of his grasp, as he crossed the line fourth, but Franco was the highest placed Independent Team Rider to cross the line.

Team-mate Rossi was able to maintain his 17th place off the line and gained two places by the end of the third lap. Settling into a strong race pace, the Italian was soon able to start steadily moving himself through the field during the opening laps, to hold 12th at the halfway point. Unfortunately Valentino’s true potential could not be seen, as his PortugueseGP came to an early end after a Turn 11 crash on lap 15.

There will now be a short break for Morbidelli and Rossi before action resumes with the Gran Premio de España, held at Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto (30 April – 2 May).

Franco Morbidelli

"I’m very happy to be fourth today and it’s been a great weekend for us. The race was really good and I was able to fight my way through at the beginning. Then my rhythm and pace was good enough to stay there and battle for a podium place. I was a little surprised about that and I’m proud that we were able to do so. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough potential to attack fully, but I’m really pleased with this result anyway. It’s a good injection of energy after the two races in Qatar, the feeling with the bike is back and now we just need to enjoy this moment. Let’s see what happens in Jerez!"

Valentino Rossi

"Today things were better because we improved some settings on the bike and we used the hard rear tyre, which gave me a better feeling. My pace was a lot better than yesterday, but unfortunately when you start from behind it is always difficult. I lost a bit of time on the first corner but after that I was thinking that I could make it into the top-ten. Unfortunately I lost the front in Turn 11, it’s quite a demanding corner on the front tyre, and my race was over. It’s a shame because we could have taken some good points today, but we know that we have made improvements."

Razlan Razali

Team Principal

"It was a real rollercoaster weekend for the team and another difficult one for us. We can be happy with a good fourth position in MotoGP for Franco. We all needed the good result and it will give him renewed confidence to come back even stronger in the next round in Jerez. Valentino showed signs of improvements and recovered well, unfortunately he crashed but there are some positives we can take from the race today."