The Spanish never truly embraced F1 until Fernando Alonso broke cover. Their love affair with motorcycle racing runs rather deeper… photographer Václav Duška
America once hosted three F1 Grands Prix in a single season (1982), an idea nowadays perhaps unthinkable, yet such is Spain’s infatuation with bikes that it presently hosts four (of 18) MotoGP races annually – in Jerez, Barcelona, Aragon and Valencia. Its stranglehold on the schedule has been thus since 2010.
These images were taken at the 2017 finale, where Marc Márquez’s consecration added a certain frisson, but the mood is ever similar. As Mat Oxley explains on the preceding pages, Spain’s love affair with bike racing gained impetus in the late 1960s – and nobody has yet seen fit to tap the brakes. In contrast, Alfonso de Portago recorded the first F1 GP podium finish for a Spaniard – sharing with Peter Collins at Silverstone in 1956 – and such a feat would not be repeated until Fernando Alonso took third in a Renault R23 in the 2003 Malaysian GP.