#PortugueseGP - March 22, 2024

The fun started in Portugal on Friday as the action of the Grande Prémio Tissot de Portugal, the first European stop of 2024, got underway on the amazing Portuguese rollercoaster, located in Algarve. Eyes were logically on MotoGP™ rookie Pedro Acosta, after the Shark’s sensational debuts in Qatar, but was he going to perform too on a circuit with no previous experience on the RC16? On his side, Augusto Fernandez returned to Portimao, just one year after his debuts in the main class, as he was on the lookout for a better weekend than the opening round in Doha two weeks ago.

The opening Free Practice 1 started in tricky track conditions on Friday morning following the sandy rain from overnight, so Pedro Acosta remained careful for his first MotoGP™ ride on the rollercoaster. The young Shark rode his best lap in 1’41.609 after nineteen laps completed in forty-five minutes. He sat in P15, just behind his teammate Augusto Fernandez, and 0.766 seconds from the second Red Bull KTM Factory bike. The afternoon’s Practice happened in conditions more suitable for times to go down, and the young Shark was well aware of it. Flying Shark alert! Acosta took his best lap time down to 1’38.599 as he seemed to enjoy his ride on the rollercoaster. The rookie remained provisionally in the top 10 most of the session, leaving us all thinking that he was going to make it 2/2 on a Friday, but that was without Alex Rins coming to steal Acosta’s thunder in the last seconds! Rins took P10 and left Acosta 0.039 seconds outside of the direct Q2 spots. The number 31 will have to go through his first MotoGP™ Q1 on Saturday morning.

Augusto Fernandez arrived in Portugal all ready to go at it again with the target to perform better overall this weekend, after he left Qatar on a positive note with noticeable improvements made during the main race. The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is a layout that MotoGP™’s 37 enjoys, where he scored his first points in the main class last season, so he was eager to get things started. In this morning FP1, Fernandez managed to make himself a spot within the top 15, in P14 with a 1’41.531. In the afternoon, times went down for everyone, and that also included Augusto who managed to bring his time down to 1’39.160, but that was not enough to fit in the top 10 at the end of an extremely tight session, with eighteen riders less than one second from each other. Augusto took P21, despite being just 1.103 seconds from the fastest rider, and he will join his teammate in Q1 when the qualifying shootout kicks off at 10:50 local time on Saturday morning.

Position: 11th
Time: 1'38.599
Laps: 24
"Good first day in Portimao! We could not ride many laps in the morning because of the track conditions, but still, we used it to understand the lines, and get used to the bike on a new track for me in MotoGP. In Practice, we made a really big step compared to the morning, and we had a good rhythm. If we can make a few little steps tomorrow, we will be able to be even closer to the front guys, this is our goal for Saturday.

Position: 21st
Time: 1'39.160
Laps: 23
"We are still working really hard to improve and try to feel good again on the bike. Everyone was so close today, so we are far in the standings but not that far time-wise, but it was a tough day. We have a few ideas for tomorrow, so let's get to work tonight, and try to have a good Saturday.


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