It’s a historic week for the World Championship, as India becomes the latest destination to embrace the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, with anticipation mounting for the much-awaited IndianOil Grand Prix of India. With the MotoGP™ circus venturing into uncharted territory, the spotlight now falls on the formidable Buddh International Circuit, a fresh challenge that awaits the racing elite as its gates swing open to welcome the paddock.
With new adventures come new possibilities, and a chance at carving out a little piece of history. The rider that takes Sunday’s chequered flag first will write their name into the history books as the inaugural MotoGP™ winner at Buddh International Circuit. Within the current grid, there are a number of riders who could be considered new track masters, not least Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team)!
At the 2022 Indonesian GP, the Portuguese rider had the honour of being the first rider to ever win a MotoGP™ race at the Pertamina Mandalika Circuit. Oliveira has made a habit of achieving such feats, having also come out victorious when MotoGP™ first visited Portimao’s Algarve International Circuit in 2020, meaning he is two from two at new circuits during his premier class career.
That record places him joint-second on the list of wins at new circuits during the MotoGP™ era, with eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez topping the list with three. The Repsol Honda rider counts opening wins at the USA’s Circuit of the Americas in 2013, Argentina’s Termas de Rio Hondo in 2014 and Thailand’s Buriram International Circuit in 2018 amongst his list of many sporting accolades.
Since 2002, six other circuits have made their debuts on the MotoGP™ calendar. The now traditional season opener, then Round 13 of the 2004 season, in Qatar was first won by Sete Gibernau and Honda’s RC211V. In 2005, China’s Shanghai International Circuit saw its maiden race go the way of Valentino Rossi, while later that season, Marco Melandri took the win at the first-ever Turkish GP at Istanbul Park.
Three years later, Rossi took victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before we saw MotorLand Aragon make its debut in 2010, with Casey Stoner standing on the top step of the podium for the final time with Ducati. 2016 saw the Red Bull Ring in Austria arrive onto the calendar, with Andrea Iannone claiming victory there. There are of courses tracks that featured in the past and made their returns post 500cc, such as Twin Ring Motegi. Replacing the iconic Suzuka International Racing Course as the host of the Japanese Grand Prix in 2004, Honda’s Makoto Tamada, riding a Japanese bike on Japanese tyres in his home country, made it a day to remember. Silverstone Circuit is another that returned to the calendar after a lengthy absence and under a new guise in 2010, with Jorge Lorenzo emerging victorious then.
Taking a premier class race win is always a memorable occasion, but doing it a new circuit’s inaugural Grand Prix is truly unique. This weekend we will see it happen again as Buddh International Circuit welcomes the world to India.
Oliveira has proven the recent master of new tracks, so can he match Marquez’ impressive record, or will we add a new name from the current crop of riders to the list above?