Another top ten for Mahindra down under
Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira finished seventh in today’s Australian Grand Prix, in a typically canny ride from 15th on the grid.
The Portuguese teenager might have done better, as he picked his way through from 17th on lap one. Soon he was able to break free from the pack to close to within just over a second on a big leading group, with every chance of catching them. But he had company from Jakub Kornfeil, and the pair’s battle, exchanging places round the sweeping 4.448-km seaside circuit, inevitably slowed their pace.
It was Oliveira’s eighth top-ten finish of a hotly disputed Moto3 season, including one third place and two fourths.
Rookie team-mate Andrea Migno finished 17th, two places out of the points, and a big improvement after qualifying 26th.
There was disappointment for top customer Mahindra rider Brad Binder, who was playing a strong role in a lead group that for the first half of the race was eleven-strong. The Ambrogio Racing rider was poised for an attempt at a second successive rostrum when a collision took him and another rider out. He remounted to finish 15th.
With two races left in the 18-round World Championship, Oliveira is now equal on points with Mahindra rival Binder, the pair disputing tenth in the championship, with ninth or better well within reach. Today’s result also reinforced a strong third place in the constructors’ championship for the only Indian constructor in the MotoGP series.
The next race is the Malaysian GP next weekend, followed a fortnight later by the season finale in Valencia in Spain.
Miguel Oliveira – seventh place
With a crash yesterday I wasn’t able to do as many laps as I wanted, and we have been struggling to get the bike to turn, especially with the wind. We chose a different direction with the front fork for the race, changed everything, and it was a bit better. With the disappointing qualifying, my goal was to finish, as well as possible. I lost contact with the front group in the early laps and I was pushing really hard, but couldn’t catch them. I was lucky to gain some advantage from other riders crashing. Not a bad race, after a difficult weekend.
Andrea Migno – 17th place
My race was not bad, but the result not so good, because of the bad qualifying. I am fast enough to run with the front group, and I should be there, but I never could get a quick lap in qualifying. I was alone in the race, and on a fast track the slipstream is important. But the Mahindra was good, the set-up was right. Not a bad ride, but a little bit too far behind.
Mufaddal Choonia: CEO Mahindra Racing
Miguel finished seventh from 15th on the grid ... we’ll take that. It was not the best qualifying, but the race came out not too badly. There would have been two Mahindras in the top ten and possibly one on the podium if Brad Binder hadn’t crashed ... but that is what racing is.