When MotoGP announced that it was adding a 15th round to its 2020 calendar, it was not exactly the best-kept secret in the MotoGP paddock that the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão would get the nod.
Today, that news becomes official, with the Portuguese GP set to take place November 20th to 22nd.
Of course, in a season that has seen a bevy of cancelations and postponements because of the coronavirus outbreak, any race schedule has to be taken with a modest amount of uncertainty and skepticism.
This comes as the coronavirus is flaring back up in Dorna’s home country of Spain, and after the MotoGP paddock registered its first confirmed case of COVID-19.
The MotoGP Championship seems set to stay on the European continent and for now it has the intent to race into the winter months. Though, considering the situation globally, we have a certain pessimism that 15 grand prix races will be the result for this season.
The reserve track for the MotoGP Championship since 2017, this year’s race at Portimão will mark the first time a grand prix has been held in Portugal since the 2012 race at Estoril.
With Miguel Oliveira practically a national hero in Portugal, the timing of the MotoGP’s return to the Iberian country is apt, at least from a marketing perspective.
Like the WorldSBK round, MotoGP hopes to have fans at Portimão during the race weekend (30,000 is the goal for race day), cheering on Oliveira and the other grand prix riders.
“It’s big news for us, we signed an agreement in 2017 with Portimao to be the reserve circuit for any kinds of cancellations, and we’ve been in contact with them all this time,” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna.
“We’ve been to Portimão with Superbike and we think it’s an amazing possibility for us, and also in the agreement is that the track will be resurfaced after the Superbike round. When we explained this to the riders they were excited because they’ve seen the track on TV, but we’ve never been there. ”
“Portugal has a long history in our sport and there have been some historic battles in Estoril. It’s something very good for us to have the possibility to go back to Portugal, especially with Miguel Oliveira participating as it’s great to have a Portuguese rider able to compete in his own country. We are extremely happy to be racing in Portimão at the end of the year.”