Moto GP

Championship heating up as MotoGP returns to Europe this weekend

The Tissot Grand Prix of Portugal kicks off the European stage of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship at the Algarve International Circuit this weekend, with it set to be a bumper weekend in Portimao. 

Before the track action today, Championship leader and The Americas GP winner Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) was joined by Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory racing) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) on stage to discuss what lies ahead with the media at the pre-event Press Conference.

After four incident-filled and drama-packed rounds across Asia and the Americas, MotoGP is back in Europe. The Algarve International Circuit, affectionately known as the Portimao rollercoaster for its undulating nature and exhilarating racing, is the first port of call for the premier class. For some, a return to familiar ground offers a chance to start fresh and build some momentum in the Championship. It’s particularly true in the case of hometown hero Oliveira, who has had a mixed beginning to the 2022 season.

“The start wasn’t what we wanted because we wanted to be inside the top ten and close to the top five. We come here and being a home GP, we can reset the mind and everything. My motivation is high. We want to find the speed we had in the past and try be competitive here in Portugal again,” home lad Oliveira said.

For Marc Marquez, he returns to the scene of his comeback in 2021, after almost a year out from the sport. Having just come back from another injury at COTA a fortnight ago, it’s a chance for him to continue to gel with the revamped RC213V at the rollercoaster.

“It was a nice comeback one year ago here in Portimao after the long injury. It hasn’t been an easy year with ups and downs and some injuries but anyways we are in Portimao to compete. It’s true that inside our box we don’t have a lot of references because I competed only one time and it was half and half. The last GP here, Alex and Pol were quite fast. We need to understand with this new bike if we can continue the same way we did in Austin, it’s time to reconfirm here in Portimao.”

Sunshine may be at a premium over the course of the next few days if weather reports are to be believed. The chances of a second wet race of the season beckons which may prove problematic for some riders. However, Championship leader Bastiaini feels he can take it in his stride as he can lean on previous data recorded by his factory counterparts.

“The conditions will be strange this weekend. There will be a lot of wind and the possibility of rain. In Indonesia, we made a good step in the race in the wet conditions. Also, Pecco [Bagnaia] was really fast here and I can check his data to see something, but I want to start this weekend from zero and after we will see what happens,” Bastiaini said yesterday.

For Alex Rins, it mightn’t be as straightforward. He said at the press conference yesterday: “The weather could be tricky. Friday and Saturday, we might have rain and wind. We’re in good shape so let’s see where we end up.” 

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