Christina Bulpett |
MotoGP’s 2020 grand finale took place in spectacular style at Portimão this afternoon – a fitting location to what was an unexpected rollercoaster of a 2020 season – as Miguel Oliveira enjoyed a dominant and flawless victory on home soil.
The action continued until the dying seconds as Jack Miller and Franco Morbidelli once again battled for podium positions with the Australian taking second on the final lap.
The paddock was filled with goodbyes galore as multiple riders enjoyed a last hurrah for their current outfits before swapping colours, liveries and manufacturers for 2021. Britain’s Cal Crutchlow called time on an illustrious MotoGP career, alongside Italian Andrea Dovizioso – at least for now – with the outspoken Englishman swapping full-time racing for testing duties at Yamaha from next year, while the question of who takes the final vacant grid spot – at Aprilia – remained unclear.
Joan Mir and Suzuki secured the Rider and Team Championships last time out at Valencia, however, there were many battles still to be won as the final race of 2020 got underway. The World Champion having struggled with an electronics gremlin throughout Saturday, a 20th place grid start the unfortunate outcome.
Home-hero Oliveira launched from pole as the demanding 25-lap race roared into life, Morbidelli and Miller pursuing as they battled for the hole-shot but it was the Tech3 who maintained the lead as the front row held their positions into turn one.
An impressive start found Mir up to 12th by the end of the opening lap before disaster struck the Champ as he collided with Johann Zarco and fell back to 20th, Brad Binder caught up in the incident before crashing alone at turn one at the start of lap three. An early incident saw Pecco Bagnaia also suffering, the Italian retiring without completing a lap and clutching his shoulder as he entered pitlane.
Back at the front and Oliveira was fully in command, his lead now more than two-seconds over Morbidelli with Miller and Crutchlow battling for final podium contention behind. Stefan Bradl impressed in sixth as he attempted to hold off Pol Espargaro with Zarco recovered to seventh from Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins.
Six laps done and Rins was firmly on the Petronas’ case, the Spaniard making the move stick in the middle sector as Espargaro advanced the KTM on Crutchlow for fourth. Further back, Mir was making gains as he recovered to 16th, Valentino Rossi next in the frame as the Yamaha pair circulated just a second ahead.
Espargaro and Crutchlow continued their squabble for position as the ninth lap got underway, a three-second gap now separating them from the podium places as the leader disappeared, a further four-seconds clear.
A three-rider-battle between Takaaki Nakagami, Alex Marquez and Quartararo was joined by Andrea Dovizioso with 15 to go, the Ducati man making his presence known as he pushed through to take 10th, dispatching the Petronas and Honda machines into the clutches of Aleix Espargaro.
With Oliveira comfortable out front, the podium fight held the promise of another Valencia as Miller kept Morbidelli firmly in his sights. The KTM/LCR battle behind seeing both riders wide as they pushed to the maximum at the halfway point, Bradl sitting on their wheels as he waited for his chance to strike but it was Zarco who slipped through on the German to steal sixth at the beginning of lap 14.
11 to go and Dovizioso was making waves as he hustled to eight, his teammate dropping down to 16th as Mir retired his Suzuki at the end of lap, the Hamamatsu firm’s hopes of a triple crown all but over.
A late-race charge saw Espargaro advance his Aprilia into the top-10 as Rins dropped back to 12th, Quartararo now battling in the midst of the factory Yamaha’s with Maverick Viñales holding court at the head of the trio in 13th.
Zarco scalped Crutchlow as lap 18 began, his old KTM machine the next in line albeit almost two-seconds ahead but the LCR man wasn’t giving up as he kept the Frenchman honest in the closing laps. Dovizioso rose again as he looked to go out on a high, taking seventh from Bradl as Rossi and Quartararo did likewise on Rins, for 13th.
Five laps to go and disappointment hit Crutchlow as the Brit was left with nowhere to go in the four-rider battle, heading wide and dropping to ninth before Espargaro made things worse on the next revolution.
The closing laps emulated the previous weekend as Miller attempted to heap pressure on Morbidelli, the calm Italian keeping his cool, determined to hold on to second. Opposing fortunes befell the Aprilia squad as Espargaro gained another place, over Zarco for eighth as Lorenzo Savadori crashed out.
The penultimate lap found Nakagami challenging Espargaro’s KTM for fourth as teammate Crutchlow had the Yamahas for company, Viñales pouncing at the start of the final lap as Miller finally found a chink in Morbidelli’s armour with a block pass as the race met its conclusion.
Oliveira completed a stellar weekend with victory at his home GP, three-seconds ahead of a jubilant Miller – who consolidated the Manufacturer Championship for Ducati. Morbidelli crossed the line nine-seconds clear of the rest of the field to claim both ‘Independent Rider’ and overall runner-up honours. Espargaro claimed fourth from Nakagami with Dovizioso sixth in the race and fourth in the rider standings. It was a strong seventh for Bradl after an impressive end to his stand-in season with the elder Espargaro brother battling the second Honda man, and younger Marquez, for eighth. Zarco concluded the top-10 ahead of a dejected Viñales, Rossi behind for his final outing with the Monster Yamaha squad while Crutchlow ended his season and career with a 13th place finish. The woes continued for Quartararo in 14th with Rins claiming the final points position and with it, third place in the World Championship classification. Petrucci, Mika Kallio and Tito Rabat completed the finishers.
MotoGP Portimao race result – conditions dry
1 25 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM 41’48.163 164.7
2 20 43 Jack MILLER AUS Pramac Racing DUCATI 41’51.356 164.5 3.193
3 16 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT YAMAHA 41’51.461 164.5 3.298
4 13 44 Pol ESPARGARO SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 42’00.789 163.9 12.626
5 11 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU HONDA 42’01.481 163.9 13.318
6 10 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team DUCATI 42’03.741 163.7 15.578
7 9 6 Stefan BRADL GER Repsol Honda Team HONDA 42’03.901 163.7 15.738
8 8 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 42’04.197 163.7 16.034
9 7 73 Alex MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 42’06.488 163.5 18.325
10 6 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Esponsorama Racing DUCATI 42’06.759 163.5 18.596
11 5 12 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 42’06.848 163.5 18.685
12 4 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YAMAHA 42’07.109 163.5 18.946
13 3 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL HONDA 42’07.322 163.5 19.159
14 2 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT YAMAHA 42’12.539 163.1 24.376
15 1 42 Alex RINS SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR SUZUKI 42’15.939 162.9 27.776
16 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Ducati Team DUCATI 42’22.429 162.5 34.266
17 82 Mika KALLIO FIN Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM 42’36.573 161.6 48.410
18 53 Tito RABAT SPA Esponsorama Racing DUCATI 42’36.574 161.6 48.411
32 Lorenzo SAVADORI ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini APRILIA 37’16.433 162.6 3 laps
36 Joan MIR SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR SUZUKI 25’36.751 161.3 10 laps
33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 3’30.015 157.4 23 laps
Not finished first lap
63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Pramac Racing DUCATI