MotoGP flew around the splendidly flowing Algarve International Circuit for the fifth round of the world championship campaign and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira owned 5th position by the end of 25 laps on Sunday afternoon.
Miguel Oliveira shone for KTM at the first European round of the season and in front of an eager and expectant crowd surrounding the circuit close to the coastal town of Portimao. The fourth Grand Prix at the undulating course was run in the dry after two days of a wet and stormy climate and with two RC16s blasting from the fourth row of the grid.
Oliveira charged into contention for the top six and was circulating just adrift of the lead group. The Portuguese benefitted from the unexpected crash between Joan Mir and Jack Miller and steered his way to 5th for 11 points. The classification pulls him up to 8th in the championship standings, right behind his teammate. Brad Binder charged through the pack to eye the top ten but crashed at mid-race distance.
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Remy Gardner rode to 14th place and his second catchment of MotoGP points in only his fifth GP in the premier class. The Australian was alone in the Tech3 KTM pitbox. Raul Fernandez’s fall in Q1 on Saturday left the Spaniard with a painful right hand and the rookie was unable to race.
The Gran Premio Red Bull de España takes place at its traditional home of the Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto next weekend and means only a short drive east for the MotoGP paddock ahead of round six in Andalucía.
Miguel Oliveira: “We feel like we could have challenged for more today but we had a couple of difficulties during the race. I wasn’t too happy with our compound choice of the front tire. So, to take top five on a day when I was not so comfortable on track: we’ll take it. It is also a good base to build a positive mindset for Jerez and good motivation. It was a pleasure to ride in front of the home crowd and all the fans. I was happy to give them something with this 5th position.”
Remy Gardner: “The race was the first time of the weekend we were able to ride in the dry, because this morning was still a bit humid. I did not get a good start and found myself last at the first corner but I managed to recover quickly. I started to have a decent pace but by that time the group ahead had made a gap already. It is a bit of a shame because I could have aimed for a Top 10. I feel positive about today. It is two points in the bag after a hectic weekend here in Portugal. It has been my best race so far this season, and I feel like if we would have had more dry time, I would have had more chances on my side but I am happy overall anyway.”
Brad Binder: “It was nice to wake-up to sunshine and have a dry track to race on. Warm-up went reasonably well and I noticed a few things with the set-up but we didn’t really have time to work on it. I was battling in the race and fighting to get the bike stopped when I was behind people but started to find my groove. I was pushing-on but unfortunately got sucked into one of the corners too much and tucked the front. Sorry to the team for messing-up. This happens. We’ll move on, and Jerez is normally a great track for us.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “A little bit of a shame. We had two days with rain with Miguel always on top but then straight to a dry race with only warm-up to prepare. Anyway, we go home with a 5th position, which is not the worst result but we had a podium in the back of our mind today. The fight is very tight and there were six manufacturers in the top six places. Brad didn’t get the best start and wasn’t in the best condition for overtaking. There was a lot of traffic and he lost the front when he was coming back. Generally, the bike handled well considering the 20 minutes of dry track time we had. I’m pleased that Remy also took some points and it was unfortunate that Raul was out due to injury. Now we look ahead to Jerez and, of course, the post-race test which will be crucial. We hope to have all four of our KTM riders in the saddle there.”
Results MotoGP Grande Premio Tissot de Portugal
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha 41:39.611
2. Johann Zarco (FRA), Ducati +5.409
3. Aleix Espargaro (ESP), Aprilia +6.068
4. Alex Rins (ESP) Suzuki +9.633
5. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +13.573
14. Remy Gardner (AUS), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +40.205
DNF. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
DNS. Raul Fernandez (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing