One of the hardest and most technical circuits on the MotoGP™ calendar was the scene for the Grande Premio 888 de Portugal and a sterling performance by Husqvarna Motorcycles’ Romano Fenati who scored 7th place in Portimao.
After the extended stay in Qatar for the opening two races of the season, MotoGP travelled to the picturesque climes of Portugal and the Algarve region for the third round of nineteen in 2021. The Algarve International Circuit in Portimao hosted only its second Grand Prix event and after its MotoGP inauguration last November. The layout winds around the local topography of the area, meaning a delicious twist of hills and descents and a wide variety of corners. Portugal also provided the Moto3 field with stable weather conditions; only the opening Free Practice on Friday was damp after overnight rainfall.
The Sterilgarda Max Racing Team opened their race trucks on European soil for the first time this year and wheeled the FR 250 GPs straight into set-up duties on Friday and Saturday. By the end of the Q2 session Romano Fenati and Adrian Fernandez sat in 14th and 16th positions respectively and with the target of latching immediately onto the front running pack for the 21 laps on Sunday.
When the lights went out the experienced Italian placed the white FR 250 GP in the heart of the breakaway top ten with his teammate for company. He exchanged overtaking moves with his rivals repeatedly and was finally 0.7 of a second away from the winner at the chequered flag. Fernandez was also right in middle of the group and looking strong for his best result of 2021 until he misjudged entry to the tight right-handed Turn 3 with six laps to go. He clipped the rear wheel of Tatsuki Suzuki and both riders fell.
Fenati holds 10th in the formative Moto3 world championship standings and with a host of promising circuits ahead for the most decorated racer in the category. Fernandez is still pursuing his first set of Grand Prix points but his speed indicates a fast adaption to Moto3 and big potential in the coming events.
Husqvarna Motorcycles head next to more familiar asphalt: the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto was the scene of a 2021 pre-season test and is one of the most renowned Grand Prix tracks in the world. The Gran Premio de España is slated for May 2nd.
Romano Fenati: “I’m happy with this race because I had a really good feeling with the bike but we were missing a little bit on the straight. We will work on this for the next race. I’m feeling confident and strong at the moment.”
Adrian Fernandez: “The start of the race was difficult but step-by-step I passed the riders and our strategy and speed was good. Then six laps before the end I crashed and I’m really sorry for the team and also Suzuki. It was another race and more experience for me.”
Max Biaggi, Team Principal: “It was good to see both riders in the first group; this was the positive thing from the Portuguese Grand Prix. Of course, we are a bit disappointed with Adrian’s crash but it was a pure mistake and these happen. It was important that we remember he was in the top group with good pace. We’re looking forward to seeing more from this young kid. Romano was 7th and he couldn’t finish higher so we now have to focus on Jerez.”
Results – 2021 Moto3 FIM World Championship, Round 3
1. Pedro Acosta (KTM) 38:01.773, 2. Dennis Foggia (Honda) +0.051, 3. Andrea Migno (Honda) +0.584 7. Romano Fenati (Husqvarna) +0.773, DNF. Adrian Fernandez (Husqvarna)
World Championship standings
1. Pedro Acosta (KTM) 70pts; 2. Jaume Masia (KTM) 39pts; 3. Darryn Binder (Honda) 36pts; 10. Romano Fenati (Husqvarna) 20 pts; 23. Adrian Fernandez (Husqvarna) 0 pts.