MotoGP: Portimao to host 2023 season opener

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Portimao will host the opening round of the 2023 MotoGP season on March 24-26 for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

It’s the first time since 2006 (Jerez) that a MotoGP season has begun in Europe, and only the third time in more than three decades. It’s also the first time that Portugal has hosted the opening round in MotoGP.

The Portuguese circuit replaces Qatar, which has been the traditional season opener since 2007 – however the MotoGP class did not race there in 2020 due to Covid-19 travel restrictions – and hosted the first-ever night-time GP in 2008. The Losail International Circuit is undergoing facility upgrades following the return of Formula One to the venue.

“The full, provisional 2023 MotoGP™ calendar will be published by the FIM in due course, but the first event can already be confirmed,” today’s statement reads. “The 2023 Portuguese GP will mark the first time the MotoGP™ calendar has begun in Europe since 2006 and will be only the third season opener held in Europe in more than three decades.

“It will also be the first time Portugal has ever hosted the first race of the year, with expectation ahead of the new season set to hit full speed on the Algarve as the grid debut with their new colours and machinery, and the first trophies of the season are awarded.

“There will also be official pre-season tests held at Portimão during the weeks before the event, the dates of which will be confirmed soon.”

Alongside Qatar and Jerez, previous opening round venues include Sepang (Malaysia), Suzuka (Japan), and Phakisa (South Africa).

MotoGP returns this weekend (August 5-7 at Silverstone after a six-week summer break. Fabio Quartararo leads the championship, holding a 21-point lead over Aleix Espargaro. Quartararo will have to take a long lap penalty during Sunday’s race following the incident with Espargaro at Assen.

The race will be shown live on free-to-air television in the UK, via ITV. Moto2 will also be shown live on ITV, whilst the Moto3 race will be broadcast on ITV4.