Portimão, Portugal — The new season of MotoGP isn’t quite underway and the stakes are already high behind the curtain.
During the second practice session Friday, Pol Espargaró Villà (GasGas Factory Racing), was involved in a crash that has been described as “serious”, prompting a red flag and an ambulance called for the Spaniard.
MotoGP has a quick clip of Espargaró just prior to his crash over on their Twitter. While it does not show the moment of impact, viewer discretion is advised.
Espargaró is reported to be conscious and mentally sound according to medics at the scene, and is now under the care of a local hospital for bodily trauma that was possibly sustained from his bike colliding with him during his crash toward the end of the session.
Elsewhere, past World Champ, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha), and reigning 2022 Champion, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo), are both on the scene at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal ahead of the big race Sunday.
Luca Marini, also racing Ducati for Valentino Rossi’s Mooney VR46 Team, begins his junior year in the MotoGP class as a serious contender. Not only is he the brother of “The Doctor” Rossi, he has set the fastest lap times in the two prior preseason tests, and landing within a hair’s breadth of the podium in P4 at the conclusion of the Portuguese trials which ended March 12.
Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM) ranks in P1 after current second practice standings and holds the new record for fastest lap at 1:37.746, as he edged out Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and Pecco Bagnaia, bringing up the second and third positions respectively.
Marini continues to hold 4th place, with third practice and qualifying rounds starting tomorrow.
Quartararo, who has claimed his sponsoring factory, Yamaha, is to blame for his 2022 failure to become World Champion, currently sits at P6.
Despite this, “El Diablo” has already signed a contract through the 2024 season with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team.
In 2022, Bagnaia broke a 15 year wall of Japanese superbike wins in the Premiere circuit with Ducati when he outmatched Quartararo, whether by skill or the sheer performance of his Italian-made bike. Could the 2023 season bring a second year of European dominance?
With Pecco Bagnaia being the man to beat, MotoGP is shaping up to be another banner season this year.
Cover: Pol Espargaró (front left, racing for Repsol Honda in 2021) shown tailed by Valentino Rossi (center) at the Grande Prémio 888 de Portugal in April 2021. | Source: Box Repsol
Will Burgess is a journalist with Adrenaline Powersports Mag