MotoGP 2020: Starting grid and race preview for Portuguese Grand Prix

By Sports Desk November 21, 2020

MotoGP's newly crowned champion Joan Mir has work to do if he is to cap his fine season with a podium finish in Portugal, where home favourite Miguel Oliveira claimed his maiden pole. 

The final race of 2020 sees the riders in the Algarve, Oliveira producing an excellent time on home soil to become the seventh different rider to sit on pole during an eventful year in the premier class.

Mir, meanwhile, will start in 20th after a cancelled lap time saw him fail to even make it out of the opening qualifying session.  

Franco Morbidelli won in Valencia last time out and will start from second, while Jack Miller completes the front row. Cal Crutchlow – competing for the final weekend as a full-time MotoGP rider before taking up a testing role – claimed fourth. 

WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING

Mir said before qualifying that he was "100 per cent" committed to ensuring Suzuki complete a clean sweep this year, but the Spaniard – fresh from sealing the title at Valencia last week - endured a Saturday to forget. 

Suzuki team-mate Alex Rins was also left frustrated as he ended up in 10th, with Takaaki Nakagami and Andrea Dovizioso, who is taking a break from MotoGP in 2021, starting on the same row. 

At the head of the grid, Oliveira will hope to make home advantage count after denying the consistently quick Morbidelli pole position with a stunning late lap.

THE STARTING GRID

1. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), 2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), 3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
4. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), 5. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha), 6. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda)
7. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama), 8. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), 9. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM)
10. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar), 11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), 12. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
13. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), 14. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), 15. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing)
16. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda), 17. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha), 18. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
19. Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia), 20. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar), 21. Tito Rabat (Esponsorama), 22. Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Tech3)

PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS

Mir will make history if he fails to top the podium – which seems likely – as it will mean the 23-year-old will become the first rider to win the MotoGP title having won only one race. 

After his disappointing, joint-worst qualifying result, Mir said he was compromised by an electronic issue with his Suzuki, and it will be fascinating to see how the champion goes on Sunday. 

Suzuki are frontrunners to claim the team and constructor championships yet need Mir and Rins to up their performances from qualifying. 

Maverick Vinales was a title contender at one stage but has dropped off as the season has progressed. He looked sharp in practice on Friday, but could only muster eighth place in qualifying, afterwards claiming it was "impossible" for him to get any more out of his bike.

"We don't improve during the weekend. I was super-fast in FP1, also in FP2 very fast and consistent, and then every practice [it] got worse and worse. In FP4 I did four good laps but the rest was a disaster, so... I don't have an explanation, I don't know," he said. 

"You have to ask Yamaha because for me it is very repetitive and everything I talk [about] and I don't want to make an excuse."

WHAT THE RIDERS SAID

Miguel Oliveira (pole): "The feeling is special to make a pole in Portugal, especially because in this moment we don't have much going on in terms of sport and people here are thirsty for some kind of emotion." 

Franco Morbidelli (2nd):  "It was a tough day, but in a way, positive because it ended up well. We tried to see if I could improve the feeling on the bike, but we tried some things I didn't like. In Q2 I felt okay, felt alright and had a good feeling to push. I almost got pole position so thanks again to the team, they've been working really well." 

Jack Miller (3rd):  "There were a couple of corners I could have done a little better. I think it was difficult to do laps in the wind, it was quite scary on the last corner. The bike has been amazing, the track's amazing, I don't think anyone is out there not having fun, you know you’ve done some laps, it has been unreal." 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Riders
1. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 171
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) 142
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 138
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 127
5. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 125

Teams
1. Suzuki Ecstar 309
2. Petronas Yamaha 230
3. Red Bull KTM 209
4. Ducati 194
5. Monster Energy Yamaha 169

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