The highlight of the first day of MotoGP qualification and the first ever ‘Sprint’ was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jack Miller taking 5th position at a warm and sunny Algarve International Circuit.
The first Saturday of the 2023 season was hectic, with qualifying followed by the 12-lap Sprint, which the Australian led and finally finished 4th at the Grande Premio TISSOT de Portugal.
- Jack Miller and Brad Binder end qualification with 5th and 15th positions on the grid, respectively
- The Australian and South African score 4th and 12th in the short and intense Sprint with the KTM RC16s
- Miller shatters the lap record on Friday during Practice 2 and goes quicker on Saturday.
- Jose Rueda 2nd the fastest in Moto3™, and Pedro Acosta is on the front row for Moto2™.
Jack Miller smashed the lap record by one second during Practice 2 on Friday to head into Q2 as the top-ranked rider. He then went faster again but was denied a third fantastic flyer at Pole Position by a slow-speed crash at Turn 3.
Miller will start the Grand Prix race from the 5th to the middle of the second row. Brad Binder was dealing with a stiff neck and shoulder but logged a lap time good enough to be 15th fastest after Q1 and less than a second from Pole Position.
At 3 pm Red Bull KTM Factory Racing lined up for the first-ever MotoGP Sprint: 12 laps of intense action with world championship points at stake and early bragging rights. Miller and Binder filled their grid slots and went full gas.
Miller harnessed all the grip of his soft tire selection and moved up from the fringe of the top five to lead with a thrilling move at Turn 13. He couldn’t keep Marc Marquez at bay and took 4th by the checkered flag. Binder was on the edge of the top ten after being bustled in the opening corners and was pipped to the line, eventually taking 12th.
The team and riders will now reset and review their configuration for the full-length 25-lap Grand Prix on Sunday at 14.00 GMT.
Jack Miller, 5th in qualification, 4th in the Sprint: “I was a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but it’s safe to say the first Sprint was a success. We threw our noses into the lead there for a little bit. I enjoyed that race a lot. The team and the engineers have been working tirelessly. I’m not a good test rider: I’m a racer!
I enjoy risking when it’s worth it. We’ve made some significant improvements, and we’re showing some potential. It’s been a progression; every time we go out, it’s improving. More and more seat time is helping me. We will have a different strategy for tomorrow, and hopefully, we can make that work.”
Brad Binder, 15th in qualification, 12th in the Sprint: “The Sprint was a lot of fun. It was pretty wild, and I was hung out to dry by other riders on the first lap and which cost me a lot of time. This weekend hasn’t been easy for me, but I know what I must do: I have to get fit again because I have been struggling with my neck and shoulder on the bike. I’ll try and do a good job tomorrow and get some valuable points.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “A great Friday that allowed Jack to get to Q2 directly with the lap record. Unfortunately, we know Brad is not in the best condition, and we must give him time to return to his best level. Jack started well from the second row and fought for the podium until the end of the race:
It was an excellent start to the season and a perfect Sprint. It was strange for us to be on the grid on Saturday afternoon, and we are trying to extract as much information as possible to see if we can use data for the Sunday race. We will see how this goes, but I’m sure all the fans enjoyed this extra show! We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Results Qualifying MotoGP Grande Premio TISSOT de Portugal
1. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda 1:37.226
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.064
3. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +0.228
5. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.323
15. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.879
Results MotoGP Sprint Grande Premio TISSOT de Portugal
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 19:52.862
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +0.307
3. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +1.517
4. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.603
12. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +8.384