Maverick Vinales led the opening practice session for the MotoGP Grand Prix in Portugal when Marc Marquez completed the top three on his return to action after a nine-month injury break.
Friday’s RP1 in Portugal marked the first time in 265 days that six-time World Champion Marc Marquez started an official MotoGP session after suffering a bad broken arm at the 2020 Jerez season opener.
The overnight rain made the Algarve circuit damp in places, which meant lap times started around 15 seconds slower than last year’s benchmark laps.
As conditions continued to improve, so did the best laps of the session, with a number of drivers taking turns citing the timesheets.
Yamaha’s Vinales took over from reigning world champion Joan Mir with a time of 1: 44.777 minutes with 16 minutes remaining, which he improved to 1: 44.334 minutes on his following tour.
Francesco Bagnaia moved his factory Ducati a moment later with a time of 1: 44.239 seconds ahead of the winner of the Qatar GP before Vinales fell below the 1: 44 mark with a time of 1: 43.544 seconds.
The timing screen kept lit as the 45-minute opening session of the weekend came to an end and the returning Marquez completed a short stint with a time of 1: 43.544 minutes on the stack.
The Honda rider stayed the fastest for 10 seconds before Bagnaia broke his efforts with a time of 1: 42.934 minutes.
In the midst of the many laps at the end of practice, Marquez seemed ready to steal all the headlines as he shot back to the top of the rankings on his final attempt with 1: 42.378 minutes.
However, faster laps for Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Vinales denied this. The Yamaha rider set the pace to 1: 42.127 seconds and led Rins by 0.151 seconds.
Marquez held third place, 0.251 seconds off Vinales’ pace, ahead of Honda teammate Pol Espargaro, while championship leader Johann Zarco on his Pramac Ducati finished fifth.
In the end, Bagnaia was mixed back to sixth place in front of Fabio Quartararo in the sister factories Yamaha and Jack Miller in the second works team Ducati – the Australian who was fresh from the arm pump operation last week.
Alex Marquez was ninth on the LCR Honda ahead of Tech 3 KTM’s Danilo Petrucci, who announced Thursday that he had a shoulder injury in Qatar last month.
Valentino Rossi was 11th on the Petronas SRT Yamaha while Champion Mir was 13th ahead of Franco Morbidelli’s other SRT bike.
Last year’s Portuguese race winner Miguel Oliveira started his home weekend cautiously in 17th place for the KTM factory team under difficult conditions, while team-mate Brad Binder rounded off the field of 22.
FP2 starts at 2:10 p.m. local time.