The host venue, the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal, will host what’s sure to be a thrilling round three on Sunday (Monday morning NZ time).
Ducati rider Johann Zarco leads the standings after two rounds, followed by fellow Frenchman Fabio Quarteraro (Yamaha), Spain’s Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) and Italy’s Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati).
Spain’s Alex Rins (Suzuki) is fifth overall thus far and comes into this new race weekend confident after achieving sixth place in the Qatar GP and equalling his best Losail finish with fourth in the Doha GP.
This solid start to the season stands him in good stead ahead of the European leg, although a difficult race in Portugal last year meant he only managed 15th place.
Rins’ Suzuki team-mate, defending world champion Joan Mir, from Spain, didn’t have the easiest start to the season, but he took decent points with a fourth and a seventh in the first two rounds.
Last year in Portugal, Mir was unable to finish the race, but it’s a circuit he is keen to ride again, and he wants to settle the score this time out.
Meanwhile, Spain’s six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Márquez will finally get his 2021 title challenge under way at the Portuguese GP.
The Honda rider suffered a badly fractured arm in the 2020 season opener – which ruled him out for the year – and the Spaniard made a welcome step back to competitive racing when he completed a day around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on his Honda in the middle of March.
Doctors could not give him the green light for the first two races of the 2021 season at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, however the 28-year-old has recovered enough to line up now at Portimão.
The Algarve International Circuit is still a relative unknown for MotoGP riders and teams alike, with the track only added to the calendar during last season’s disrupted schedule. However, the sporting complex, located close to Portimão on Portugal’s picturesque Algarve, has become a firm fan favourite due to its ‘rollercoaster’ style layout with plenty of ups, downs, and thrilling action.
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Points standings after two of 19 rounds:
- Johann Zarco, France, Ducati, 40 points;
- Fabio Quarteraro, France, Yamaha, 36;
- Maverick Vinales, Spain, Yamaha, 36;
- Francesco Bagnaia, Italy, Ducati, 26;
- Alex Rins, Spain, Suzuki, 23;
- Joan Mir, Spain, Suzuki, 22;
- Jorge Martin, Spain, Ducati, 17;
- Aleix Espargaro, Spain, Aprilia, 15;
- Jack Miller, Australia, Ducati, 14;
- Pol Espargaro, Spain, Honda, 11.