MotoGPMatters.com is in Portimao this weekend, to cover the World Superbikes finale, but mostly, to seize the last chance of seeing Troy Bayliss out on track. This morning, we headed out to find the circuit and give it the once over, and we have to say that it's an impressive facility.
Look at a track map, and it looks just like another modern go-kart track, a mix between Valencia and Barcelona. Any such notions are completely dispelled once you see the circuit in the flesh, though: the track is stuck against a hillside, with the front straight mostly level, before taking off and snaking over the ridges and mounds of the valley. Walking around the track, I couldn't help but think that the track was like half of Mugello, thanks to the high narrow sections, blind crests and the odd precipitous drop. If the racing is half as good as the track, it should be stupendous.
Though the track is finished, the construction crews are still hard at work at the facilities. The press room was complete, needing only a brush and polish to finish it off, but though the bathrooms were spotless, there was no running water, and wires, lighting and other odds and ends were still being tidied up.
The most worrying aspect at the moment is the road heading from the A22 freeway to the track. The off-ramp being built especially for access to the circuit was still not finished, and work was still going on on the access road. Currently, the route to the circuit leads you over narrow country roads from Figueria, Cabeco Esteves, and off towards Pereira. Winding through those tiny Portuguese lanes made me wonder at the skill of the drivers taking those huge team trailers to the track.
The weather today was balmy, a powerful sun with a brisk breeze blowing off the ocean, but rain is expected to hit the track on Friday, clearing up in time for the races on Sunday.
Tomorrow, Troy Bayliss and the Parkalgar team, consisting of Josh Hayes, Miguel Praia and Simone Sanna, will be giving a demonstration beside the harbor in Portimao, the tourist resort which gives the circuit its name, despite being 20km to the south, while the afternoon sees the traditional open paddock. More tomorrow.