But an important chapter is also closing for Valentino Rossi, who takes part in his final grand prix after 15 seasons at the factory Yamaha team ahead of switch to the satellite Petronas team for 2021.
After three world titles for Honda, Rossi joined Yamaha in 2004, shaking up the sport by winning the world championship in his debut year on the M1. Further titles followed in 2005, 2008 and 2009 before a leg-breaking accident in 2010.
The Doctor then spent two winless years at Ducati before being welcomed back to Yamaha in 2013, an opportunity he remains grateful for.
While no further titles have followed during his second spell, Rossi has finished championship runner-up on three occasions, including the 2015 final round loss to team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, and won ten races.
“Sunday will be a special moment because it was a long journey together,” said Rossi, who will also be bidding farewell to several of his loyal mechanics on Sunday.
“Our story is divided into two parts and I have to say thank you to everybody at Yamaha for giving me another chance after the two years with Ducati. Because I was quite desperate, so for me was crucial to come back into the factory team.
“Also the second part was very long. We won a little bit less but anyway it was a great experience with a lot of unforgettable moments. For sure I will miss the team a lot.”
Asked for his best memories of Crutchlow and Dovizioso, the #46 replied: “The end of a career, a part of a career, is always something that I don’t like a lot, sincerely.
“Cal was also a World Superbike rider but I think he did an important career in MotoGP, I have a lot of memories with him. We fight in a lot of races. I remember his first victory in Brno in 2016 in the wet race, where he arrived in front and I arrived second.
“With Dovi we have a long relationship because we raced in minibike together when we were 10-11 years old. So I remember him from a long, long time. Also with Dovi we did a lot of great battles and I remember Malaysia 2016 when he won and I arrived second, and we fight for all the race.”
Speaking at Portimao on Thursday, Rossi said he has a simple target for the end of a complicated season.
“The target is to be competitive. It’s the last race of the season, I don’t have an important position in the championship, so I want to try to be strong and fast during the weekend.”
Rossi, who has finished just five of the 13 races this season (including missing both Aragon rounds due to Covid), is 15th in the world championship.
Next season will see Rossi and younger brother Luca Marini both race in MotoGP, with Marini joining Avintia Ducati.