After four and a half months of freediving, the MotoGP riders gathered on the starting grid to reserve a cheer for Carmelo Ezpeleta before the start of the last race of this 2020 campaign. Everyone then seemed to realize with relief that, yes , despite the global health crisis and unimaginable constraints eight months ago, the championship did indeed take place, and its conclusion in Portugal was possible without any cancellation marring the good performance of the remodeled program and launched in July.
For this final, MotoGP brought the Portuguese Grand Prix back to life, and took up residence in Portimão, an unprecedented Grand Prix track. It is a Portuguese, Miguel Oliveira, who took the start from pole position and it is he who is entered the first corner as a leader, heading towards a victory that everyone seemed to take for granted on Saturday when he took the best starting position.
When the lights went out, the Tech3 pilot settled in in front of Franco Morbidelli, Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow, on the start after this last race. Sacred last weekend, Joan Mir was only starting from 20th place, and if he was 12th at the end of the first lap it was after a first incident that would put Pecco Bagnaia on the sidelines: in a contact between the two men, the Pramac pilot indeed felt his right shoulder disengage, causing him such severe pain that he had to return to the pit.
Very quickly, a new incident brought down the new World Champion to the bottom of the standings after contacting Johann Zarco’s rear wheel in turn 3. The Frenchman, for his part, got into a fight with Fabio Quartararo for the eighth place. Quartararo, for which it was the 100th World Grand Prix, would soon give in and let his compatriot slip away before demoting again and again until the last points at stake.
As he already showed during the first free practice on Friday or Saturday in qualifying, Miguel Oliveira quickly showed his incomparable mastery of the track, brilliantly exploiting the sharpest lines. He gave us a demonstration of perfection not unlike that which Nicky Hayden had achieved when MotoGP first tackled a Laguna Seca track at least as unusual and impressive as it is. is Portimão and of which he knew the smallest secrets. With a 1.55 lap lead over his pursuers, the Tech3 driver shoveled tenths up his lead in the opening minutes of the race, so that after the sixth lap, his margin exceeded three seconds.
Behind him, Morbidelli and Miller revived their duel of the Grand Prix of Valence, this time with second place in the race at stake, and for the Italian driver an honorary title of vice-world champion. His closest pursuer in the overall standings, Álex Rins, initially managed to gain an advantage over Nakagami and Quartararo to move up to eighth place, with a group of Zarco, Bradl, Crutchlow and Pol Espargaró.
For once, the Suzuki rider showed signs of weakness in the second part of the race, however, and instead had to concentrate on his mirrors. In the group that followed him, Quartararo tried to fight against Nakagami before giving in not only to the Japanese, but also to their three pursuers, Andrea Dovizioso, Álex Márquez and Aleix Espargaró. Past leader of this group, # 04 quickly reunited with Bradl, seventh, followed like his shadow by Nakagami.
After being passed by Pol Espargaró, Crutchlow was dispossessed of fifth place by Zarco, and it was he who found himself under threat from Dovizioso when the Ducati rider took the lead over Bradl on the 19th lap. With six laps to go, the fight remained very open for the top 5 in the race, with Dovizioso having a real stake in the championship before taking a sabbatical year. Trajectories “not very academic” from Portimão spiced up this superb fight, but Crutchlow got caught having to go off track, giving Aleix Espargaró the opportunity to pick up. Dovizioso and Nakagami, for their part, showed their superiority at the end of the race to take turns taking fifth place, finally going to the Japanese.
In front, Miguel Oliveira did not commit the slightest misstep and it was finally with more than three seconds of margin that he crossed the finish line, giving Tech3 an absolutely impressive second victory! Behind him, the Morbidelli-Miller duel observed last week in Valencia resumed in the last lap, this time with a successful overtaking by the Australian to grab second place ahead of the one who finished better whatever happens. Yamaha rider this season.
Isolated in fourth place, Pol Espargaró leaves KTM with another solid result, although he failed to give Mattighofen the victory he had dreamed of. Fifth place went to Nakagami, who managed to break away from Dovizioso in the dying moments. Not far behind, Bradl got for his part the seventh position at the handlebars of the first Honda of this race, ahead of the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaró.
Álex Márquez finally finished ninth ahead of Zarco, then Viñales and Rossi who managed to take the advantage over Crutchlow in a difficult end of the race for the Englishman. Visibly plagued by pain in his arm at the end of the race, Quartararo only scored two points with 14th place, and Rins saved only a small point on his side. On the start of Ducati to join Tech3, Danilo Petrucci finished 16th, ahead of Mika Kallio and Tito Rabat, the Spaniard who was also the last race in MotoGP.
It should be noted that after his eventful start to the race, Joan Mir retired when he returned to the pit in the 16th laps with a technical problem. Previously, it was Brad Binder who had given up, having made a mistake in turn 1 in the third lap, after a very complicated start to the race. At the end of the race, it was Lorenzo Savadori who crashed on the Aprilia.