Mahindra MGP3O rider Miguel Oliveira added to his points score at today’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, with a determined ride against the odds to 14th place.
It was a conspicuously brave effort, but far short of the goals and expectations of the only Indian manufacturer in World Championship motorcycle racing, after a weekend where both riders struggled to find the handling balance to suit the sinuous 4.423-km circuit outside the sherry capital of Spain.
The Portuguese rider had qualified 12th, but was in strong form for the race after a good start. He was starting to work his way through the 10-strong leading group when he was struck by arm-pump problems after only five of 23 laps. From there on the race was an endurance test. The Mahindra was performing perfectly, but Miguel was unable to defend himself under brakes. Bravely he soldiered on, finally finishing 14th.
Second rider Arthur Sissis continued his run of bad luck, with a gear-shifting problem possibly caused by overheating the clutch at the start. He dropped to the back then pitted for early retirement. After illness and then falling victim in a first-corner crash at round two, the Australian has yet to open his points score in his first season with Mahindra.
Jerez marked the start of the European season after three ‘flyaway’ races. The next Moto3 race is in France at Le Mans in two weeks’ time when the eight World Championship Mahindra MGP3O machines will be joined by two more customer bikes competing in the FIM CEV International Championship support race.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – 14th position
We were a little unlucky in qualifying with a front tyre issue, and though I felt good I wasn’t 100 percent comfortable in the three strong braking areas – but I was comfortable making up time in the fast corners. The race was quite good, and I was gaining some places in the leading group. The bike was going well and responding to my requests. But after five laps I started to feel a problem in my right arm. After that I started to lose time, and when some riders caught me up I couldn’t defend myself on braking because of the arm. It is not something I suffer from often, but it made it a tough race, and I was glad to finish – I have never finished at this track before. Now I am really looking forward to the next race.
ARTHUR SISSIS – Did Not Finish
This morning’s warm-up was good, and also the warm-up lap. I had no problems, and I made a good start, going outside four riders into the first corner … but at the second I couldn’t down-shift properly. The problem persisted: I was last and losing time, so I went into the pits. I hope my luck will change soon.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO Mahindra Racing
The dreaded ‘arm-pump’ seems to have put paid to a potential good result. Miguel made a good start, and he was keeping with the group and even gaining places to get into the top ten …but after five laps he started suffering. He couldn’t brake properly, or open the throttle accurately enough. After that, he showed his great determination to finish in the points. Not the weekend we wanted, but we’ll look forward to better in two weeks in France.
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.