The venue takes over from Losail in Qatar, which has hosted the opening round of the MotoGP season since 2007, although the premier-class did not compete at the event in 2020 due to Covid restrictions.
Qatar has stepped down from the coveted season-opening spot due to ‘extensive renovation and remodelling to the paddock area and circuit facilities’, which has forced MotoGP’s only night race to be held later in the 2023 campaign.
Next year’s Portuguese GP will be only the third MotoGP 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.
There will be official pre-season tests held at the Portimão circuit during the weeks before the event, the dates of which – like most of the 2023 calendar – are still to be confirmed.
The date of March 26 for the opening round has raised some eyebrows, since it is three weeks later than this year’s Qatar season-opener, even though the 2023 racing season is again expected to consist of at least 20 rounds.
As such, next year’s world championship will either end later than this year’s November 6 date (Valencia) and/or the summer break – extended to five weeks this year due to the cancellation of Finland – will be reduced.
The 2023 season will officially begin with a one-day post-race Official test at Valencia in November, which will now be the only chance for official track time before the start of the winter testing ban, from December 1-January 31.
After the ban ends, a three-day Shakedown test will take place, at a TBC venue, for factory test riders and MotoGP rookies.
There will then be two official tests held, one of three days and the other of two days, before the start of the season.
One of those official tests will now be at Portimao.
The other venue is still to be confirmed but Sepang in Malaysia has traditionally been hosted both the Shakedown and opening Official test.