Mahindra takes another step with extra power
The Mahindra pair Efrén Vázquez and Miguel Oliveira finished fifth and sixth in today’s Catalunyan Grand Prix.
The double top six is the only Indian international motorcycle racing team’s best result so far, earning valuable points to improve the all-new MGP3O machine’s strong standing in the championships.
The race was a personal triumph for Vázquez. The 26-year-old racer from Bilbao in northern Spain missed the last two races after breaking his collarbone in practice in France. Still not fully healed, he gritted his teeth and even took the lead mid-race. Still close to the leaders after 22 gruelling laps, fifth was his best finish of the season.
Oliveira (18, from Portugal) started from the front row for the second time this year, and played a strong part in the seven-strong breakaway. By the end he had lost a couple of seconds on his team-mate, but held his pace to win a strong fight for sixth.
It was an important race for the team and the motorcycle. Designed and built in just six months the first Mahindra MGP3O prototype proved not only reliable from the start, but also impressively competitive. The bike for round six in Catalunya was a first development step. Upgraded internal parts and a new muffler have improved engine performance, while refined bodywork has smoothed the aerodynamics.
Both riders felt the advantage, proving development is in the right direction; and the result moved Mahindra tantalizingly closer to second overall in the constructors’ table.
The next round is in two weeks, where the Dutch TT is held on a Saturday at the historic Assen venue.
EFRÉN VÁZQUEZ – Fifth Place
I am very happy with this race even though I couldn't fight for the podium right until the end. Fighting in the first group demonstrates the level of our performance with the new bike. The setting of the bike was perfect. My main issue was my shoulder. I need more time to let it completely recover because at the end of the race it was difficult to move. It was difficult to ride in such a big battle when I am not at 100 percent. After five or six laps my strength was dropping and the pain increasing. Finally I could be fifth: a very positive result because I am not so far from the first group.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – Sixth Place
It was an okay race – I got caught up battling with Jack Miller and we both lost touch with the front group. It was a bit difficult to fight today, but it was important to finish and I am happy we could still get sixth; and sixth in the championship is not bad. Maybe I could have done better if everything had gone 100%, but racing is like that and I am happy that we are in good shape for the next races.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – Mahindra Racing CEO
It was a very good performance from the boys today. I wouldn’t say I am totally happy, in spite of a double top six. I think we could have finished a couple of places higher had it not been for Efrén’s shoulder, which really hindered him in the second half of the race. It was great to see him leading the race and taking the fight to the rest, but it was difficult to maintain his pace. He was in real pain when he came back into the box – I am very pleased with his effort and determination today. Miguel got caught up with another rider and at a circuit like Catalunya it is very difficult to catch up again once you lose the slipstream. The updates that we had on the bike following the test in Mugello worked very well. This is a good sign for the future and shows we are working in the right direction.