Following the two-week season-opening double-header in Qatar, MotoGP moves onto Portugal for the next leg. Set in the charming seaside town of Portimao, Portugal, this is just the second year having run in Portimao. Up until 2012, the event had been held in Estoril for 12 straight seasons. MotoGP would leave Portugal after 2012 and return eight years later.
Looking at the track specs for the Algarve International Circuit, it is 2.8 miles, with 15 turns. It’s referred to by some observers as the roller coaster due to the steep hills in turns one and turns eight. Native rider Miguel Oliveira won the debut event here, to close out last season.
Currently, the track holds 100,000 spectators and home to many major events, including the Formula 1, FIM Superbike Championship, and the 6 hours of Portimao. The hospitality at this event is also second to none. Just 27 minutes walk from the circuit sits the Algarve Race Resort. It’s quite an impressive complex with 75 rooms, as well as a restaurant that overlooks the race track.
With factory duo Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo splitting the first pair of races. Yamaha has kicked off the season in great form. However, with all that said, it’s Ducati that sits atop the leader board. Ducati rider Johann Zarco having already racked up 40 rider points. In the first pair of races, Zarco has two podium results.
Marc Marquez Return
After 8 plus months, Repsol Honda will be at full strength for Sunday, with Marc Marquez finally making his return to competitive racing. Honda obviously could use a kickstart, as teammate Pol Espargaro sits 10th in MotoGP points. Espargaro’s race time did improve by 4.593s in the second round (leaving plenty of room for optimism). Stefan Bradl was unable to gain much traction filling in for Marquez over the first two races.
Just days prior to the opening round in Qatar, news that Marquez would be held out was released. His team doctors feeling Marquez still needed more time to heal. It’s been 18 weeks since Marquez would have surgery after suffering an infection on his right humerus. He would need three surgeries in all, which included a bone graft. The injury stems from a heavy crash suffered during last season’s debut race in Jerez, Spain.
Marquez will have plenty of work to do coming out of the gate (in hopes of tying Valentino Rossi for second-most MotoGP titles with seven). As stated before he comes into round three in a 40 point hole to Zarco.
“Marc Marquez will be strong immediately, I don’t see any contraindications, not even psychological ones,” began Guidotti, whose rider – Johann Zarco – currently occupies the top spot in the World Championship, 40 points ahead of Marquez. “Perhaps he will be a little more careful not to slip, as falling immediately could be difficult to manage.
Wisely for Marquez, he won’t be coming into Friday’s practice completely cold. Once he was granted the green light by the medical team, he was back out on the track. Ironically Marquez started out by riding a mini-bike near his home. And has since worked in some daytime riding at Montmelo circuit on the RC213V-S (in hopes of deciphering his physical progress).
Regardless of the amount of hard work he has put in coupled with his incredible skill set, it’s still a wait-and-see situation. It may take him a race or perhaps two, but Marquez will get a handle on things rather quickly. He was able to get some testing done here at Portimao leading up to Friday, which should help. This will be Marquez’s first visit to the track in a competitive fashion.
He has plenty of time and opportunity in which to dig himself out of the negative hole. Keep in mind that defending champion Joan Mir had 11 points last season after three rounds. To put that into perspective, Marquez would need just a fifth-place finish on Sunday to equal that total.
If you’re looking to put a wager down on Marquez as outright winner, he is currently unavailable at many Sportsbooks. However, you can still find odds on him if you search around.