Pol Espargaro was just 0.333 seconds off pole position as he demonstrated this season’s wins while Stefan Bradl’s pace continued to improve in Portugal.
The action at the Algarve GP began on Saturday with an exciting free practice 3, the field of 22 drivers left it until the last moment of the morning to push for a quick time. Pol Espargaro secured his position in the top ten with a 1’39.552 in the closing minutes of the session. Stefan Bradl did not make it into the combined top ten, but the German improved his personal best by another half a second.
A fall at Turn 1 during Free Practice 4 slightly disrupted Espargaro’s plans for the session, but the # 44 escaped any injury and was able to quickly get back on track. At the end of the 30-minute session in 11th, Espargaro was preparing for Q2. A well-timed run earned him a 1’39.058 on his penultimate lap, good enough for a sixth place on the grid for the race on Sunday. Top Honda on the grid, this is the fourth time Espargaro has started from the first two rows in 2021 – two of the previous starts resulted in top five finishes.
Espargaro qualified 14th for the Portuguese Grand Prix earlier this year with a time of 1’39.710. His results today clearly show the progress he and the Repsol Honda team have made this season.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda team garage, Stefan Bradl continued steadily and placed himself among the regular Grand Prix drivers. Half a second away from the top ten in FP3, Bradl would improve his best time to 1’39.907 for 10th place in Q1. Since first stepping on the bike on Friday, the Honda HRC Test Rider has improved his time with every session on the track. Bradl is hoping for a constant race to extend his points gain in 2021 after scoring in all four of his appearances so far this season.
The race on Sunday starts at 1:00 p.m. local time, right after the Moto3 race, and will run over 25 laps.