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Vinales wins Portuguese GP sprint after Bagnaia mistake, Marquez second

PORTIMAO, Portugal: Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales took the first sprint victory of his career at the Portuguese Grand Prix, taking the checkered flag ahead of Marc Marquez and Jorge Martin at the Algarve International Circuit on Saturday.

Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia looked well-prepared for a comfortable victory when he was in the lead, but with four laps to go the Italian missed, allowing the three Spaniards behind him to move forward.

Marquez had started from eighth on the grid but rode his Gresini Racing motorcycle with determination to take his first podium place on a Ducati machine and overtook Martin with a well-timed retirement on the final lap to take second place on an all-Spanish podium.

“Honestly, I’m happy to be back at the top. We have to focus on (the race) tomorrow, but we will enjoy today. My first win for Aprilia,” said Vinales, who has now won on three different MotoGP motorcycles – Aprilia, Suzuki and Yamaha.

Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller had qualified fifth, but shot off the finish line as the lights went out and took the lead on the first lap. However, he was quickly overtaken by the chasing group and Bagnaia took the lead with ten laps to go.

Behind him, Marquez was also highly motivated after starting from eighth on the grid following a crash in qualifying. The six-time champion set the fastest lap and quickly fought his way through the field before falling in line behind Bagnaia.

But Vinales, who had overcome a bout of illness on Friday, had qualified second fastest and the Aprilia rider moved up, squeezing between the two Ducati machines and pushing Marquez into third.

Marquez lost another position when sprint king Martin slipped with seven laps to go as the Pramac Racing driver set his sights on Vinales.

But all eyes lit up when Bagnaia missed, allowing Vinales, Martin and Marquez to move into the top three.

Vinales had clear air in front of him and raced to the lead with no one challenging him, while Marquez waited for the perfect opportunity to pounce on the final lap when he overtook Martin and took second.

“Tomorrow the race will be even more difficult. I made a mistake in qualifying that I was able to avoid. I activated the rear device too early and fell,” said Marquez.

“The team did a great job repairing the bike and in the race I was very lucky to get a good start on the first lap.”

Bagnaia finished fourth, maintaining his narrow lead in the championship, two points ahead of last year’s title contender and runner-up Martin.

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