Mahindra on podium, but disappointment for team riders
Mahindra customer team rider Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing) claimed his third podium finish of the year for the Mahindra MGP3O in today’s Japanese GP, finishing a whisker-close third after a thrilling 20-lap race round the Motegi circuit north of Tokyo.
But the Moto3 race brought cruel disappointment for both Mahindra team riders, with Miguel Oliveira crashing heavily out of the leading pack just after half distance, and rookie team-mate Andrea Migno brought down and out on only the first lap.
Binder’s third place came after a fierce leading battle, with seven riders inches apart when Oliveira suffered his brutal high-side. The battle raged to the finish and was only resolved on the third-last corner, where two riders tangled, leaving the way clear for winner Alex Marquez, second-placed Efren Vazquez, and the South African Mahindra rider Binder. The first four riders crossed the line in 0.672 of a second.
Oliveira would surely have played a strong role in the fight, given that he had broken ranks and chosen a harder-compound tire, which would have paid dividends in the closing laps. But it was not to be, with a heavy looping high-side crash on lap 12 that left him so winded that he had to be stretchered off. Soon afterwards he was on his feet, having escaped serious injury.
Migno’s race was bitterly disappointing, after he had started strongly from 22nd on the grid, confident of being able to move forward for another points-scoring finish in only his fourth GP. In the thick of the pack, however, he was hit by another rider who then crashed in front of him. He was unable to avoid crashing himself, and could not restart his Mahindra.
Mahindra is the only Indian constructor in international racing, and is placed third overall in the constructors’ championship, with three of 18 races remaining. The next round is the Australian GP next weekend.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – Did Not Finish
Not much to say. I was ready for the final battle, but I didn’t get there. The crash came out of the blue. But I am not seriously hurt, so we will come back to fight again.
ANDREA MIGNO – Did Not Finish
I was hopeful for the race. First time at the track and I was faster in every session. But, thanks to another rider’s mistake, I didn’t even get to finish the first lap.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO, MAHINDRA RACING
Again, the Mahindra team was extremely unlucky today. We had an excellent pace, and I am sure Miguel would have been fighting for victory. The sad fact is that both riders crashed. But we can be pleased that Brad Binder finished on the podium, once again proving the mettle of our MGP3O machine. As a constructor, that is a shot in the arm for us. Now we will keep our heads down and push on to the next race next weekend.