Newest venues on the world championship calendar fast and flowing

Round five of 2022 MotoGP landed in Portimao, Portugal. The 4.6km winding circuit and one of the newest venues on the world championship calendar provided a fast and flowing test for the riders in Moto3, Moto2™ and MotoGP categories. The Algarve International Circuit was the scene for the 17th Grand Prix in the country but only the fourth in Portimao, situated in the south and close to the coastline, after events in 2020 and then a double in 2021.

Husqvarna Motorcycles principal star rider, Ayumu Sasaki, was joined by David Salvador in the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team pitbox for the second meeting in a row. The Spanish rookie was a late call-up after John McPhee was unable to pass a fitness test. The Scot had travelled to Portugal after pushing hard to recover from a training accident but will now aim to re-join the team and the series for the Grand Prix of France in three weeks.

The rain poured down for Free Practice on Friday but both Sasaki and Salvador were able to hover in the top ten as the slimy conditions caught out many riders. On Saturday the skies remained grey. The best qualifier was Sasaki who rushed his FR 250 GP motorcycle to 10th on the damp surface.
In contrast to the previous round at COTA in the USA, Moto3 opened race day in Portugal and was back to the usual first slot on the timetable. Sunshine finally beamed down on a busy circuit as the Moto3 field rushed around 21 laps. Sasaki started outside the top ten but by the third lap was already hunting the top five and then moved up to 3rd by mid-race distance as the rhythm and gaps of the leading group fluctuated. The Japanese was extremely competitive and eying victory all the way up until the last couple of corners where he was able to secure 3rd place for his fourth career podium and the second of the season. Salvador completed his second appearance for the team with 22nd place.

Sasaki is now 7th in the Riders’ standings. Sterilgarda Max Racing Team sits 6th in the Teams table and Husqvarna Motorcycles is 4th best in the Constructors competition.
The MotoGP World Championship only has a brief respite this week as the Gran Premio Red Bull de España will take place at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto for the sixth fixture of the year on May 1st.
 
Ayumu Sasaki: “Today I’m a bit disappointed because I was looking for the win. I was managing the tyre and not pushing much. I knew the pace was slower than what I could make. Two laps to go I planned to breakaway but could not get a gap and was then passed by [Jaume] Masia very aggressively and I lost some positions. I had to come back and made the ground so I was satisfied with the last lap but I wanted the win! The team did a great job and the bike was amazing so we will try again in Jerez.”
 
David Salvador“Thanks to the team and my sponsors because this was again another good opportunity for me to learn and apply the experience to my JuniorGP season. We are working quite well and I know we will get a bit better for Jerez. I think we can be a bit further ahead. We need to focus more on qualifying because it’s a weak point at the moment but I’m getting more and more confidence in the bike. My rhythm wasn’t that bad today but we can get tenths of a second better a lap. That’s the goal.”
Max Biaggi, Team Principal: “Today was definitely a very solid performance for our team. Ayumu is doing a very good job and has been constantly in the top five for the last few races. He is realising that he can do it out there and can produce something big this season. I hope his first victory comes for him as soon as possible. David replaced John at the last moment and while we know his potential it was difficult to ask more from him this weekend. I hope he can make a better position at the next race in Jerez.”
 
Results – 2022 Moto3 World Championship, Round 5
1. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) 38:17.725, 2. Jaume Masia (KTM) +0.069, 3. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) +0.110, 22. David Salvador (Husqvarna) +30.402
Moto3 world championship standings
1. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS) 83pts, 2. Dennis Foggia (Honda) 82. 3. Jaume Masia (KTM) 54. 7. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) 45, 18. John McPhee (Husqvarna) 11
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