Factory Mahindra rider Miguel Oliveira added to his points score in today’s Catalunyan GP, with a fighting 12th place, at the front of a group that had been engaged for the full 22 laps of the opening race of the day. Arthur Sissis also led his battling group over the line, in 18th place, just three away from the points.
But if the official Mahindra team had hoped for better after Oliveira qualified a strong seventh, it was still a pleasing day for the only Indian manufacturer in World Championship racing. Customer team rider Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing Mahindra) played a prominent role in a seven-strong battle for second, eventually finishing a close sixth and underlining the Mahindra MGP3O’s growing strength.
Oliveira’s difficulties began on the first lap, when he was boxed in off the start, losing a number of positions to finish the first lap down in 13th. This left him in close combat with a big secondary group, giving the leading gang of ten the chance to escape and move out of reach.
The canny Portuguese teenager more than held his own in the volatile gaggle of high-class riders, and was almost alongside the group leader over the line, by when they had caught up the battle for ninth. Another lap might have seen further promotion.
Arthur Sissis had a hill to climb, after qualifying 27th, and made the most of it, picking up places lap by lap and finally finishing 18th, leader of a big pack going for the final points.
Alessandro Tonucci (CIP Mahindra) was less than half-a-second behind Oliveira, putting a third MGP3O in the points.
The next race is the Dutch TT in 13 days … uniquely the Assen race is held on Saturday.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – 12th position
A pretty hard race. We put in a new engine today, and the settings weren’t perfect. I was losing a lot in acceleration, especially in first gear. That made it tough off the line and in the fighting, and I’m not happy with my result.
ARTHUR SISSIS – 18th position
My race was not so bad, but the weekend was quite bad. My first session was good, then we changed settings and it didn’t work, and I qualified 27th. Being so far back makes the race difficult: you are with slower riders and by the time you get past them the front group has gone. It was exactly like that today, though I did lead my group. I really have to work on qualifying better.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO Mahindra Racing
That was an excellent race for Brad Binder – and it’s great to see him improve every race on his customer bike, showing also the improvement of the Mahindra MGP3O in its second season. He was in a very strong group, and held his position to the end. It was not the best day for the factory riders: Miguel lost many positions at the start, which cost him his chances of doing the same.