Team Gresini Racing Head Back To Happy Hunting Ground In Portugal
For the second season in a row, it will be the Algarve Intenational Circuit to kick off the European season of MotoGP, with two back-to-back events in Portimao and Jerez.
Portugal is surely a land of fond memories for Team Gresini MotoGP as before the win in Qatar by Enea Bastianini, the previous rider to step atop the podium in the category for the Faenza-based team was non other than Toni Elias at Estoril all the way back in 2006.
We need to travel back in time a few more months for the last race win by the team in MotoGP at Jerez (2004) courtesy of Sete Gibernau, who was also second in 2005 alongside Melandri (3rd), while in 2002 the late-great Daijiro Kato was second at the finish line.
But speaking of present days, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Enea Bastianini are ready for this double challenge. After the great effort put together in the overseas rounds, they are both eager to race at the two tracks – which also are two of their favourite venues.
Bastianini only raced twice at Portimão’s ‘rollercoaster’, but both times were of great significance for him: he was 9th at the chequered flag after a great comeback (he was 16th on the grid), while in 2020 he secured an early Moto2 World Title with a top five finish. Diggia has a front-row start in his Portuguese tally dating back to 2020.
The #49 will get to Jerez de la Frontera as the last Moto2 winner, while Bastianini will have to battle against an unfavourable past result-wise, even though he was third-quickest in last November’s testing.
NEA BASTIANINI (current championship leader – 61 points)
“Portimão is a beautiful track, very technical and with lots of elevation changes… a very exciting track overall! We will get there in an excellent mood after the weekend at Austin, where we were able to be competitive from the get-go – and well, the race win was surely the icing on the cake. We only must stay focused and keep working as one, just as we’ve been doing all along, and have fun – which is the main thing. Regarding Jerez, it’s a track where I know we can be fast because we have tested there already, and gaps will be even smaller. It’s another track I like and where we can do well, so let’s see how it goes.”
FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO
“Portimão is a fantastic track, but a very demanding one at the same time… a bit like Austin let’s say. We have a good base to start from and we’re carrying some positive feeling from the USA, which will be needed in Europe. Even though results haven’t been on our side so far this year, we have been learning a lot. I also worked hard back at home to be even more prepared and I’m curious to see how I will perform in Portugal. We will then go to Jerez, which is another track I love and where I know I can be competitive… It would be nice to follow on last year’s footsteps, but I know I need to work on my growth as a rider in each session.”