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).