Sergio Garcia (Valresa GASGAS Aspar Team) took his second win of the year in the Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal, first escaping in the lead and then fighting it out in a five-rider battle that went down to the final lap. COTA winner Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was back on the podium in second as he gets into the 2022 groove, and likewise Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in third as the Japanese rider continues his speed this season.
Polesitter Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) got a great start to take the holeshot, but it was a storming start for Garcia and the number 11 was soon right on the Turk’s tail. Even sooner, he was past and making a gap at the front as Öncü slipped back into the clutches of Izan Guevara (Valresa GASGAS Aspar Team), Sasaki and Masia.
As the laps ticked on, Guevara was tucked in and hunting down his teammate. A gap of over a second and a half gradually disappeared until, with 12 laps to go, the number 28 GASGAS machine took over at the front, and the troops had arrived alongside too to create a five-rider fight for the win.
Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), meanwhile, was still facing a fight for a bigger points haul. The number 7 faded back to outside the points early on and then had to pick his way back through, up to just outside the top ten with 10 to go.
By then, the battle at the front was heating up although the quintet remained over five seconds clear. Masia and Garcia bashed fairings into Turn 1 as both went for the same bit of track, no harm done, but the elbows were out and they remained so.
Onto the last lap, Sasaki was ahead but Garcia nailed the final corner to tuck into the slipstream, shooting past and leading into Turn 1. Masia attacked too and got past Sasaki, then able to start homing in on the number 11 ahead, but it was soon close as ever. By the final corner for the final time, Garcia, Masia, Sasaki, Öncu and Guevara were absolutely glued together, and hammering towards the line each was just able to hang on in that order. No moves were made, but it was a spectacular finish nonetheless.
That’s a second win for Garcia this season and it puts him into the Championship lead by two points ahead of Foggia, and it was victory in a different style to his perfect pickpocketing in Argentina. Masia takes back to back podiums as he comes home second two weeks on from his COTA win, with Sasaki back on the box once again as his consistency continues in 2022.
Öncü just misses out on the podium once more but showed good speed, with Guevara forced to settle for fifth and the final spot in that fight at the front.
The battle behind saw Carlos Tatay (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) come out on top in P6, with he and Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) able to get a little breathing space and turn that into a duel.
Foggia pushed his way through to eighth to do some damage limitation, with Australian rookie Joel Kelso (CIP Green Power) taking P9. Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) was top debutant for much of the battle and crossed the line nearly alongside Foggia, but the Brazilian was then docked two positions for exceeding track limits and is classified P10.
Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) and British rookie Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) were the last of that group in P11, P12 and P13, with Lorenzo Fellon (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) completing the points scorers – Fellon despite a late Long Lap Penalty for track limits, and Nepa just pipping front row starter Mario Aji (Honda Team Asia).
That’s a wrap on the rollercoaster for another season – and it’s next stop Jerez with home hero Garcia back on top in the standings. It’s only two points in it though, so can Foggia hit back on enemy turf? We’ll find out next weekend!