Miguel Oliveira claimed a resounding fourth place in the Italian GP today, showing all his skills and the growing strength of the Mahindra MGP3O Moto3 racer in a fearsomely close race, with a gang of more than 15 riders locked in close slip-streaming combat down the spectacular Mugello circuit’s long straight.
Fourth equals the Portuguese teenager’s best finish of his second season with the only Indian team in world championship motorcycle racing, but was a landmark of race-craft and skill. He had started from 19th on the grid, and picked his way through a huge brawling group to finish a tenth of a second off the top-three podium, and 0.121 seconds behind winner Romano Fenati.
At the finish there were still ten riders within six seconds, and the first seven of them within just over half a second. Two more of them were Mahindra MGP3O machines, with CIP rider Alessandro Tonucci seventh, and Ambrogio rider Brad Binder ninth. A fourth Mahindra also took points in the hands of San Carlo Team Italia’s Matteo Ferrari.
Second Mahindra Racing rider Arthur Sissis was 17th, narrowly missing out on his first points of the season. Sissis had qualified 24th, and was delayed by slower riders as he moved through towards the top 15.
The next race is the Catalunyan GP in Barcelona, in two weeks.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – Fourth position
It was such a hard race. Unfortunately yesterday’s qualifying wasn’t the best. We tried to improve the bike and it turned out not to be the best decision. I didn’t start so well, but I felt good and I started to recover some positions. Of course the last lap was the key: I tried to get behind the group and save the tires, and in the end to attack under braking – and I could make some positions. In the last corner, I tried for more but it was very hard. I am very happy with the result and for the team after some disappointing races. This gives us more motivation to keep pushing. We still need more work, but we have more potential than we showed at recent races. Today the bike allowed me to make the difference.
ARTHUR SISSIS – 17th position
It was a hard race. It’s always the same – I start badly then I am stuck in a fight with guys who are not so fast, and on a track like this you can’t get away, because the straights are so long. You get half-a-second gap then they catch your slipstream on the straight and pass you again … and it takes another two laps to get past six riders again. When I was on my own I was quite fast, so it’s getting better.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO Mahindra Racing
These are the kind of Moto3 races we all pay money to see. My compliments to our team and Miguel in particular. He showed amazing skill and race-craft to jump from 19th on the grid to fourth. Also to our customer teams, CIP and Ambrogio, whose riders Tonucci and Binder also finished in the top ten. It shows the MGP3O is improving all the time, as our customers get more used to the bike. We hope for even stronger results during the rest of the season. It was very heartening to see the gap between Miguel and the winner was just 0.121 seconds, and between Tonucci and the race winner 0.597 seconds … two Mahindras within six tenths of victory. This race was a big shot in the arm, and we look forward to the next race in Barcelona in less than two weeks.
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.