Wild Ride: Miguel Oliveira Wins his First MotoGP Race as Jack Miller & Pol Espargaro Battle.
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Wild Ride: Miguel Oliveira Wins his First MotoGP Race as Jack Miller & Pol Espargaro Battle.

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 24 August 2020

Author: Myanna Wedes

Credit - KTM Images/Polarity Photo

The Styrian Grand Prix in Austria was thrilling with ups, downs, new victors, the KTM factory securing more success and a disaster for Maverick Vinales who was lucky to escape unhurt after having to jump off his motorcycle when his brakes failed. The race itself was exciting with fans across the world tuning in to see how the World Championship will unfold after it was announced that Marc Marquez is out for the next two to three months as a result of his injury. The Championship has been blown wide open with the results lately at circuits which sometimes favour one manufacturer over another. This was the circuit of the Ducati machine and now has become one for the KTM’s after being strong all weekend long. Oliveira was deserving of the win after being taken out by Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder on previous race weekends. The Portuguese rider took home a sensational victory after Jack Miller and Espargaro battled it out in the race re-start which saw some heartbreak for Joan Mir and Takaaki Nakagami. With the incident of Vinales, the race was stopped which caused Mir to lose his lead and Nakagami to feel the heartache of losing a podium. In times like these with race restarts you have to be focused and not take the decision to red flag the race personally. So both riders will be looking forward to the next one in order to taste the champagne they were definitely deserving of after excelling from the first lights out.

Credit - KTM Images/Polarity Photo

So first up, the race event that allowed the KTM rider to win began with Vinales losing brakes and having to eject himself of his motorcycle into turn one at in excess of 228km/h. The fact Vinales had the brain power to be able to make this split second decision is truly remarkable. His Monster Energy Yamaha bike was smashed into pieces, caught alight and one of the main concerns the engine as a result of their reliability issues. With two events seeing Vinales almost killed, it is lucky he escaped with no injury and still the confidence to go fast.

Credit - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team

Maverick Vinales:“I was losing the brakes from lap 4 onwards. I tried my best. I tried to overtake Dovizioso, and I did overtake him, but suddenly on the straight he overtook me again. These have been three really tough races where we could have done a really good job, but due to our mistakes we're not at the front. For sure, today's crash was amazing. I never had that feeling before, where I completely lose the brakes and have to jump off. I understand how it happened, the brake overheated, but for sure it's not a common problem. Luckily, I'm okay. This is the most important thing. I will be 100% fit again in Misano. You know, we have to stay positive and focus on the next rounds. Misano is a good track for us, last year I was very strong there, and I think this year I can do even better.”

With the race restart pressure, some riders cracked and others shined. Miller, Oliveira and Espargaro pushed to the limit with Mir an unfortunate disadvantage when it was realised they had no fresh tyres to utilise. The Suzuki Ecstar rider had to use an 18 lap old front tyre whereas Miller and others were on fresh rubber. It was a shoot-out and sprint to the finish line. We are very happy for the KTM team especially Herve Poncharal who has worked tirelessly on the KTM project after leaving Yamaha and bringing home a victory that was very sweet.

Hervé Poncharal, Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Principal:“What an incredible day, incredible emotions! It is something like forty years we’ve been in this business and we never won a MotoGP race. Today our dream came true. Here in Austria, which is in front of our title sponsor Red Bull, in front of the KTM management, our manufacturer. I would like also to dedicate this victory to Miguel because he has been pushing a lot. Year one was not easy; he was injured the second half of the season. We’ve been fast since the beginning of this year, the bike improved, he improved. Now we’ve done it. I’m very proud to see two KTMs on the rostrum. Clearly, this is now one of the bikes to beat. So let’s celebrate tonight and let’s hope there will be some other exciting days like today.”

Miguel Oliveira:“I’m very emotional…there is so much I want to say but I cannot at the moment. A big thank you to all the people that believed in me starting with my family, everyone in the team, sponsors and the Portuguese crowd. Thank you so much for your support. This is history today for me and my country and I couldn’t be happier to do it here in the home of KTM and Red Bull.”

Credit - KTM Images/Polarity Photo Pol Espargaro

Pol Espargaro:“Anyone can win those kinds of races! Pretty crazy. I was fighting with Jack until the last corner and Miguel was able to profit but that’s racing. It was a beautiful race. Anyway, we made the podium, we are up here and I’m super-happy.”

The third place finish for Espargaro is not shy of controversy with exceeding track limits although the FIM did not decide to penalise the Spanish rider. Both riders entering the last corner where trying to outclass one another and Miller did although Oliveira carried in the corner speed to enable himself to win and realise within seconds that he had achieved a great victory, one that he had dreamed of for so long. Ride of the day has to be Miller who rode injured with tendon damage in his right shoulder. He pushed beyond the pain barrier and almost won the race showcasing his ability to ride the Ducati machine with such class. At times, he was crossing over and his bike going in the opposite direction as he entered and exited the corners. True class!

Credit - Pramac Racing MotoGP Team

Jack Miller:“A great weekend, I’m very happy. we did an amazing job, I was very fast for all the race, and the bike was great. I want to thank the Team and the Clinica Mobile for the support. Now I will take some rest and I will be back to Misano even more stronger.”

With the Austrian round finished, there are rider who will want to look back whilst going forward because of the harsh results achieved. These include Mir whose face was one of upset and disappointment as well as Rossi and Quartararo who also struggled with braking and their bikes all weekend. The title race is now between 9 riders!

Pos.

Rider

Bike

Nation

Points

1

Fabio QUARTARARO

Yamaha

FRA

70

2

Andrea DOVIZIOSO

Ducati

ITA

67

3

Jack MILLER

Ducati

AUS

56

4

Brad BINDER

KTM

RSA

49

5

Maverick VIÑALES

Yamaha

SPA

48

6

Takaaki NAKAGAMI

Honda

JPN

46

7

Valentino ROSSI

Yamaha

ITA

45

8

Joan MIR

Suzuki

SPA

44

9

Miguel OLIVEIRA

KTM

POR

43

Consistency can win titles and now that Marquez is out, the chance to win is right now! So who do you think has the ability to stay calm, race well and no make mistakes. If you get injured like Johann Zarco, MM93 or Pecco Bagnaia, the 2020 season can be thrown into chaos.

It was great to hear from Mir, Rossi, Quartararo and Dovi about their races. It was struggle street for Valentino Rossi and Fabio Quartararo who just did not seem comfortable on board their Yamaha bikes. It is the first time in a while we have seen such a dominant factory suffer so much and really be questioned about their effectiveness to have a bike that doesn’t upset the riders chances of winning alongside podium finishes and a constructors title.

Credit - Team Suzuki Ecstar

Joan Mir:“Today I really didn’t have luck on my side, but the positive thing is that I was really fast. The truth is that on the last corner Pol went out very wide, outside the track limits, and opened the gas. I didn’t see it very well but I thought that he would be penalised by Race Direction for that. It’s a big shame and I’m unhappy about the inconsistency in the rules. I felt great all weekend, and in the first race I felt I could win for sure, but in the restart I had to go out on the used tyre and it was very hard to hold off the other riders. I gave all I could but in the end I couldn’t do better than fourth. In Misano I’ll try again!”

Credit - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team

Valentino Rossi:“I knew that we would have to suffer a bit here, especially in the second weekend, because all the other manufacturers and riders were stronger and able to improve their pace after the first Spielberg race weekend. We're a bit worried because, though we knew this track isn't fantastic for us, we had hoped that the gap to the others would be smaller. So, it was a difficult race, with another red flag. Fortunately, Maverick was able to jump off the bike in time, it was a very scary moment. In these last two weekends we were on the limit with the brakes, especially with the Yamaha. I had a problem with it last week, and this week we modified it, working together with Brembo. In the first race today, the brakes were not fantastic, but in the second race the brakes were good, and I didn't have any particular problems. Now we have to work and hope that in other tracks, like Misano, we can be more competitive. I live very close to that circuit, so it's easy for me to get to the track. We hope to be more competitive there, because last year we were strong. We hope we can fight for top positions again this year.”

Credit - PETRONAS Yamaha SRT MotoGP Team

Fabio Quartararo: “It was more difficult today than we thought it would be. I was behind many riders in the race and we saw that the potential of our bike was not so great compared to those others. We were losing a lot in different areas. We need to find the solution to this because this will be a problem at Barcelona, Aragon and Valencia, where there are a lot of straights. It is something we need to understand so that we can improve upon it. I’m really looking forward to when we go to Misano because we should be better there; it wasn’t so fun to ride here today! There is the positive that we still have the championship lead though. We need to be on the podium at the upcoming races and get the feeling back that we had in Jerez. This will be the main target for Misano.”

Andrea Dovizioso:"Unfortunately today didn't go as I had hoped. In the first race, I had problems with the tyres, and I didn't have the right feeling to ride well. Fortunately, with the restart, we were able to make a different tyre choice, and this allowed me to find back the sensations to which I was used to. Despite this, in the second race, I was not fast enough on the corner exit, and this prevented me from recovering. We will have to work well to improve this aspect to be more competitive on the other race tracks as well. With today's fifth place, we are now very close to the top of the standings, and now we have to continue to be constant and take other steps forward in the next GPs".

With two weeks off, we then arrive at Misano where riders like Johann Zarco and Cal Crutchlow are hoping the time off will help their scaphoid fractures to heal and be more competitive. It will also be a race of redemption for those who feel “ripped off” in a way by the events unfolding at Austria and an opportunity for someone to extend their lead in the World Championship if they can stay focused. We do expect some more jaw dropping races plus finding out how the malfunctioning brake issues will be resolved because if a bike is not proving to be reliable, you have to question how their race pace and mindset will remain optimistic. Vinales can feel the title slipping although he is incredibly strong willed and when he is in the zone, things play out beautifully. We want to see “top gun” have fun battling with others and making the 2020 season one to remember as the most random on-circuit events take place!

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