Downbeat race but Mahindra hopes still high
Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina, April 27, 2014: The Argentine GP was a cruel race for the Mahindra team, with Miguel Oliveira stranded on the start line with a minor but costly technical issue, and second rider Arthur Sissis out of the points, as he gains experience in his first race on the only Indian machine in World Championship MotoGP racing.
The sinuous new Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in the Argentinean hinterland seemed at first to favour the sweet-handling Mahindra MGP3O, but circumstances conspired against hopes of another good finish in the points. Miguel Oliveira qualified for a fifth row start. The Portuguese star had gone from the fourth row to fourth place, inches from the podium, at Qatar, but his hopes of a repeat run were dashed on the start line, when his clutch suffered a rare failure.
Arthur Sissis had to be content with a first full race, after a misfortunate start to the Australian’s first season on the Mahindra. Illness ruled him out of Race 1; he was innocent victim of a first-corner crash in Race 2. Today he improved on his position, qualifying 29th and coming through to finish 22nd.
Mahindras still featured in the points table, with the customer bikes of Alessandro Tonucci (CIP) and Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing) claiming 13th and 14th places.
Renato Fenati (KTM) won a close and exciting race at the fast and scenic circuit, at the first GP in Argentina in 15 years.
The next race – round four of 17 – is at Jerez in Spain, in one week’s time.
ARTHUR SISSIS – 22nd position
That was a really bad race. At least we got a first finish, but not what we wanted. I started okay but got pushed wide in the confusion in the first corner, and I had problems with grip throughout. The season so far had been difficult, but the pre-season tests at Jerez were much better, so I hope that will be a better race.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – Did Not Finish
It was the clutch, and I could not start – this is the reality. We need to fix this problem. We have improved this year, but also all the others have improved, so we need to improve more. I hope Jerez could be a better weekend. The winter tests were not so bad there.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO Mahindra Racing
Disappointing, of course, after all the hard work. It was a clutch problem that stopped Miguel … something that could not have been anticipated. But for that, I am confident he could have had another strong race. Our customer bikes showed the MGP3O was good enough for the points.