Rider photos sourced from MotoGP.com
The Portugal Grand Prix marks not only the finale of the 2020 MotoGP season, but the end of an era for a handful of team/rider relationships. With Valentino Rossi leaving the Monster Energy Yamaha team for Petronas Yamaha SRT, Andrea Dovizioso taking a sabbatical year for 2021, Cal Crutchlow moving from LCR Honda to a testing position with Yamaha, Pol Espargaro moving from the factory KTM team to HRC Honda, Danilo Petrucci trading his factory Ducati seat for a satellite KTM seat and a few other bumps from satellite to factory teams, Sunday will be an emotional day to say the least.
The 2020 season has been a rollercoaster for teams and riders as fans try their best just to keep up with the latest drama, accomplishments and downfalls. The number of new race winners is hard to keep track of as almost every single race weekend brings a new face to the podium. Although Joan Mir has already earned the title of 2020 MotoGP World Champion, the race for runner up is on as the following top 5 riders fall within 17 points of each other.
A new circuit brings new challenges as riders push to adapt quickly to better understand where their unique skills can be utilized most and where they may fall short and need to defend harder. With only two short days to perfect bike set up, understand the circuit and more importantly, understand their opponents on the circuit, each racer must maintain spacial awareness throughout the race weekend.
The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, aka Portimao, has it all in terms of a diverse configuration. With a lengthy straight dropping into a downhill turn 1, a balanced mix of left and right hand corners and an assorted mix of hairpin, wide and double apex corners, riders have their work cut out for them as they strive to prove the adaptability and versatility of their machines. Cooler, partly cloudy conditions will place a significant emphasis on tire choice as the optimal set up could make or break a riders race day.
So how do we see the grid lining up as they enter the final race weekend in uncharted territory at Portimao? Below we have provided a ranking of riders based off the team’s puzzle skills as we pieced together each sector from other circuits included in the 2020 season. Grand Prix Scout’s Combined Index was used to analyze each rider as it takes into account their balance of speed and consistency on the studied sectors. While this rankings offers a good indication on who enters the race weekend with a statistical advantage, racing is a mosaic of variable circumstances and it takes a perfect storm of circumstances to land a rider on the podium. Speed, consistency, tire management, methodical offense and defense skills and awareness of surroundings.
2020 Portugal Grand Prix Pre-Race Rider Ranking