Mahindra rider Miguel Oliveira showed true fighting spirit at today’s Grand Prix of the Americas, emerging from a multi-bike first-corner melee that eliminated new team-mate Arthur Sissis to fight his way from the back of the Moto3 field all the way through to a position in the World Championship points.
The 19-year-old Portuguese racer was delayed in the tangle, after qualifying 18th, and then again when another rider crashed in front of him later in the lap. He finished the first lap way down in 29th position, with only two riders behind. Getting his head down to exploit all his skill and race-craft and making the most of the Mahindra MGP3O’s handling and performance, Miguel was soon picking off rivals, sometimes two or three a lap, in spite of the difficulties imposed by the undulating and complex 4.2-mile circuit. Although hopes of repeating his top-four finish at round one were gone, he didn’t give up, and over the line was in a tight three-bike group fighting for the last points.
This was the second of 17 rounds on the 2014 calendar, and a second race that brought heartbreak to new Mahindra rider Arthur Sissis. A severe bout of tonsillitis forced him to pull out of the first race.
His first race outing on the MGP3O ended on the way out of the first corner. Another rider fell under his wheels in a major mess of traffic, and the Australian’s Mahindra was knocked out from under him. He escaped injury, but the MGP3O was too badly damaged to restart.
The race was won by Jack Miller (KTM), making it two in a row in the most competitive class of the MotoGP series. The top three crossed the line within two tenths of a second – similar to Qatar, where Oliveira was in the leading pack.
Mahindra is the only Indian team and the only Indian manufacturer in world championship racing, and the MGP3O is now in its second season in the Moto3 class. It proved so impressive in its first year that six customer bikes have joined the two official Mahindra entries on the grid.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – 15th position
The race was really difficult, because I was so unlucky on the first lap. I got taken out twice – in the first corner, and again after the back straight when another crashed in front of me. I was almost last, and I had to recover a lot of time, with a lot of overtaking … which is not easy at this track. It was I think my worst World Championship race, very disappointing after the strong result at Qatar. Now there is a new circuit coming, so we have a chance to try again.
ARTHUR SISSIS – DNF
I felt good before the race. I had a bad qualifying, but improved a bit this morning, and I was expecting a better race. I don’t really know what happened – a rider behind me ran onto the inside kerb and crashed, and his bike hit mine. The handlebar was damaged, and though I tried to restart it wasn’t possible.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO, Mahindra Racing
It seems that good luck was not on our side this weekend. Congratulations to Miguel, who showed what a strong rider he is with a great recovery; and sympathy to Arthur, who lost his race through no fault of his own. It’s a long season, and our team, riders and mechanical package have shown their strength. One difficult race doesn’t change our determination.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.