MotoGP: Portuguese Grand Prix Preview
This weekend is the return of the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao, this is what to look out for throughout the weekend.
Home Hero Hunting Home Glory:
Miguel Oliveira was the first Portuguese MotoGP rider, and last year he won the Portuguese Grand Prix for the Tech 3 KTM squad. This was his second MotoGP victory in 2020. As Miguel returns home after moving to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team, and after a poor first two races at Qatar, he will be looking for a repeat of his race weekend at Portimao last year. At the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix Oliveira blasted his way to pole position as he beat Franco Morbidelli by 0.044 seconds, this set up what was destined to be an unbelievable race for Miguel. The moment the lights went out Oliveira blasted off and ran away with the race! Oliveira won his first ever MotoGP home race by 3.193 seconds! The question is can Miguel now do the double in Portugal, and win his first race in Factory KTM colours, and get his first win of 2021. I strongly believe he will be in the front group.
The Return of a Champion:
The 8-time World Champion, Marc Marquez, has been classed as fit to race during the Portuguese Grand Prix. Obviously, this may change if Marc pulls out of the Grand Prix during the weekends practice and qualifying sessions. But as of current Marc will be racing on Sunday, this is something that has been hyped up massively since his injury at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2020. Marc will be wanting to come back with a bang and get a podium at Portimao, but Marc may be rusty on a MotoGP bike as he has not ridden a MotoGP bike for nine months. I believe Marc should aim for a top ten finish, but if he can somehow climb his way into the top five then the other riders should be worried for the rest of the season. Where do you believe Marc Marquez will finish at Portimao?
At the Qatar Grand Prix and the Doha Grand Prix it was noticeably clear that the Petronas Yamaha Team are in deep trouble. This is of course because of their riders Championship positions after the first two races. Valentino Rossi is currently in fourteenth place with four points and Franco Morbidelli is in fifteenth place with four points as well. Valentino Rossi struggled with rear tyre grip at the opening race, and after believing he had found a solution for his rear tyre grip problem at the second race, Rossi seemingly lost any pace he had. Whereas Morbidelli had technical woes at the opening round as his rear holeshot device was stuck open the whole race, so he technically raced a chopper throughout the race. At the second race Franco seemed to have no pace at all. Comparing this to the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Team it is very abysmal. This is because both Factory Yamaha riders are sat on thirty-six points, after Maverick Vinales won the opening race and Fabio Quartararo won the second race. This shows that the 2021 Yamaha that Rossi rides is competitive, but 'The Doctor' must find solutions fast. Whereas Morbidelli on the 2019 Yamaha seems to be struggling with technical problems such as electronics. Hopefully, Petronas can find something to help both riders at Portimao.
In MotoGP there are two types of engines, V4's and Inline 4's. Honda, Ducati, KTM and Aprilia all use the V4 engine. Whereas Yamaha and Suzuki use the Inline 4 engine. The V4 engine is seemingly the more powerful engine in a straight line in the MotoGP class as the manufacturers using this engine are normally found at the top of the top speed sheets. Whereas the Inline 4 engine bikes are usually better in the corners due to having less power, which increases handling. At Portimao in 2020 the top ten was made up of nine V4 powered bikes and only one Inline 4 powered bike. Three Ducati's were in the top ten, with two KTM's, three Honda's and finally one Aprilia. The only Inline 4 powered bike in the top ten was a Yamaha. I suspect to see a similar pattern at Portimao this weekend, this is due to the number of straights that are located at the Algarve International Circuit (Portimao).
Photo Credit: MotoGP.com
Moto2 - Clash of the Titans:
The two riders who are leading the Moto2 World Championship are: the British rider, Sam Lowes, and the Australian rider, Remy Gardner. At the first two races in Qatar, Sam dominated and went on to win both races. But Remy was just behind Sam as he claimed two second places. So, after two races the two top riders in the Moto2 class are separated by ten points! In 2020 Remy went on to win the Moto2 race, which was his first ever Moto2 race win. Sam finished third in 2020, he was 3.813 seconds behind Remy, this was impressive as Sam was carrying a hand injury. Expect a colossal battle between these two riders and the Moto2 rookie, Raul Fernandez. The Moto2 rookie ran away with the Portuguese Grand Prix in the Moto3 class as he finished 5.810 seconds ahead of second place. Raul is currently third in the Moto2 World Championship with twenty-seven points, he is thirteen points behind Remy Gardner.
Moto3 - A New Star:
The rookie Pedro Acosta dominated the headlines after the Doha Grand Prix. This is due to his amazing ride, as he diced his way through the grid, as he started from pit lane, towards the end of the race he found himself fighting for the lead! After some intense Moto3 racing Pedro made a break for it and launched himself into the lead and put together a sensational race any veteran rider would be immensely proud of. Keep your eyes on Pedro as he now leads the Moto3 Championship and is potentially an outside challenger for the title.
What are your predictions ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix?