Mahindra fights for top five in fierce race
Mahindra riders Miguel Oliveira and Efrén Vázquez finished seventh and 12th in today’s San Marino and Rimini Riviera Grand Prix – both claiming more valuable championship points, but both disappointed to be denied better results by issues that spiked their guns.
Oliveira (18, from Portugal) was confident of a strong top five result as he held his place in a fierce group disputing fourth, holding his final attack in reserve for the closing stages of the 23-lap race round the 4.226-km Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. But even before the halfway stage he was stricken with painful arm-pump problems that made it an ordeal even to finish.
Even so, he fought to the end, finishing seventh in a tight group of five riders. Although Luis Salom had edged away for fourth by just over half a second, fifth to eighth places were covered by six tenths.
Spanish star Efrén Vázquez (27) had a harder job, after qualifying on the fifth row of the grid. He too was battling for inches in a big gang of Moto3 riders, but a gear-shifting error meant he was also not able to fight to his maximum.
The Mahindra MGP3O is in its first racing season, after being designed and developed in record time over the winter, and the 250cc single-cylinder four-stroke machine’s instant speed and reliability made it a serious contender even in first prototype form. Today’s result brings the only Indian marque in international motorcycle racing closer still to second overall in the Constructor Championship, only 14 points away from the well-established Kalex-KTM.
It was the first outing also for customer Mahindra MGP3O machines, after Ambrogio Racing switched to Mahindra for this race. Brad Binder finished 18th, just out of the points, with team-mate Luca Amato 24th, one place ahead of Mahindra wild card Andrea Locatelli.
Today’s race was won by KTM rider Alex Rins, his fourth in the 12-race-old season. The next round is at Aragon in Spain in two weeks.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – seventh place
“I am quite disappointed. The bike was good, but my race was a real struggle. I suffered from arm-pump, with still 15 laps to go. The same thing happened to me last year at this track, but never anywhere else. At the start I could do a great lap time, and I was trying not to lose the second group fighting for third. One rider got away, but Salom in front was not pushing hard. I was stuck behind him for some laps, but when my arm stiffened I couldn’t defend myself or attack. If not for that, we should have finished fourth.”
EFRÉN VÁZQUEZ – 12th place
“That was the hardest race of the season for me, and it is a shame because the Mahindra and I had the pace for a better result, and to finish at least at the front of my group and in the top ten. What made it impossible was I made some mistakes shifting, and sometimes I arrived at a corner in the wrong gear, which was a bit dangerous. I tried my best, but I think we deserved better. It was really difficult to finish where we did.”
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO, Mahindra Racing
“To be frank we are feeling slightly disappointed. Our real position is top five in every race. The difference between fourth and eighth was very small, nothing to choose. We lost two positions on the last two laps. Miguel developed a pain in his forearm as happened to him last year on this track, so he couldn’t push that last step. Now we look forward to the next race in Aragon.”