A home hero, a KTM, and a parade like no other: ahead of the Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal, the Algarve proved the perfect back drop for a truly awe-inspiring pre-event as home hero Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) led a procession of hundreds of bikes from the centre of Portimão to the circuit.
The event began in the town by the waterfront, with fans gathering for a glimpse of their hero as Oliveira took to the stage, with Mayor of Portimão Isilda Gomes and circuit CEO Paulo Pinheiro also in attendance. After talking to the fans and revealing a special helmet design too, Oliveira then went down to the crowd, signed some autographs, and took more than a few selfies. Then it was time to get suited and booted for the ride to the track – for both rider and fans.
Riding alongside and following a MotoGP™ rider – who is riding a MotoGP™ bike – is a truly unique opportunity, and an awe-inspiring number of bikers weren’t about to pass that up. Once Oliveira’s RC16 was warmed up and ready to go, the procession took off from the town and the hundreds of bikes slotted in behind as the parade snaked its way up towards the track. With the journey taking more than half an hour, there was more than enough time for the fans to soak in the experience… and the experience was still far from over.
This time, the track wasn’t simply a destination. It awaited with another unique opportunity: a lap of the venue, with a MotoGP™ rider on a MotoGP™ bike. Thundering through the gates and up towards the paddock, the parade headed from the road onto the circuit for a lap of the iconic rollercoaster, with Oliveira remaining front and centre.
Miguel Oliveira: “We had a good comparison last year with fans and without, and for sure this season we wanted to also to make something special, a pre-event and it had to involve the fans. It was a great opportunity, the last time I rode a MotoGP machine on the street was in August after my win in Spielberg, so now we got the chance to ride it again and it’s quite special – this time even more because they can follow me, and it’s really cool.”
“I think everyone who loves motorcycles and riding… I mean, if I put myself in their shoes I wouldn’t miss this chance! It’s a huge opportunity to ride, see these bikes close up, which are amazing and quite unique. I wouldn’t want to miss it! It’s a great day. My expectations for the weekend is to enjoy the weekend and get a good result, haha. Being in Portugal gives me an extra boost and motivation that whatever happened before doesn’t really matter, it’s all about enjoying the weekend and doing the best we can.”
MotoGP™ is its own orchestra when the revs go up and the lights go out every Sunday, but the grid full of fans gave even the world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship a run for its money on sheer energy and noise. If Portugal’s love of MotoGP™ and Miguel Oliveira needed an introduction, in 2022 it got one in serious style. And now it’s time for the rest of the grid to line up alongside the home hero and take on the former winner on familiar turf, so make sure to tune in for the 2022 Portuguese on Sunday at 13:00 (GMT +1).