Miguel Oliveira starts the season in 8th position
The first race in a MotoGP championship rejigged by the Coronavirus crisis saw Miguel Oliveira match his best top-flight performance yet behind the wheel of a Tech3 team bike.
The last time Oliveira had raced was in October, on the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. He was injured a week later during a practice session for the Australian Grand Prix and had to forfeit the rest of the season. But Tech3’s Portuguese rider made the most of the extended Covid-19 interlude, fully recovered from shoulder surgery and came back stronger than ever. In Jerez, the 2020 season’s first Grand Prix, he crossed the finish line in 8th place, matching his performance in Austria last year—his best in MotoGP so far. “Starting the season among the top 10 is more than I’d hoped for,” he said. “We had some trouble fine-tuning during the practices, but the team did a fantastic job and my bike worked wonderfully during the race.” The conditions in Andalucía, however, were tough: the temperature on the tracks hovered well above 50°C and the stifling heat overwhelmed Iker Lecuona, Oliveira’s teammate. Tech3’s rookie had shone in the trials and hung on in 12th position as long as he could but abandoned five laps before finishing due to exhaustion.
Over in Moto2, Sam Lowes also bounced back into the competition with a bang: The Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS team’s rider, who hadn’t been able to start in Qatar due to a shoulder injury, came 4th in the second Moto2 race this year. His teammate, Augusto Fernandez, didn’t have such a great start: the Spaniard is still coming to grips with his Kalex bike’s front end and finished the race 13th.
In Moto3, the KTM Tech3 team’s two riders did well but their efforts didn’t earn them rewards. Ayumu Sasaki, who hadn’t managed to net any points in Qatar either, finished in 11th place. “I’d chosen hard tires when most of my opponents had soft tires,” the Japanese rider explains. “So it was a difficult start to the race. I fell back a few positions before I found my pace and started chasing a top-10 finish.” Denis Öncü was also vying for a top-10 place when he fell six laps before the finish line. The Turk got back on track and finished 25th.
Jerez also hosted the FIM MotoE World Cup season’s first race, which Lukas Tulovic finished in 4th place—just short of the podium. His Tech3 teammate, Tommaso Marcon, came 12th, not far behind Marc VDS rider Mike Di Meglio, who zoomed past the checkered flag in 10th place.
As the MotoGP riders hadn’t raced in Qatar in early March, the 8 points that Miguel Oliveira clutched in Spain rank him 8th in the standings. In Moto2, Sam Lowes ranks 9th, neck and neck with Joe Roberts and Xavi Vierge. Augusto Fernandez, who hadn’t brought home points from Doha either, is in 20th place. Over in Moto3, Ayumu Sasaki currently ranks 16th (5 points) and Denis Öncü 19th (4 points). And, in MotoE, Lukas Tulovic ranks 4th, Mike Di Meglio 10th and Tommaso Marcon 12th.