Miguel Oliveira begins big weekend


Action in Valencia begins with Miguel Oliveira amongst the 10 fastest riders. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika make improvements throughout the day.

Oliveira, Moto3, Valencia MotoGP 2015

Oliveira, Moto3, Valencia MotoGP 2015

The final Moto3 World Championship round of 2015 began on Friday, with the first two practice sessions for the Valencia GP. Miguel Oliveira, who will fight for the title in the race on Sunday, steadily improved his lap times throughout the day to finally place seventh fastest overall. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika followed in their teammate’s footsteps,  setting the fifteenth and nineteenth fastest times, respectively.

Oliveira is focusing on his own work this weekend, and from the early stages of practice at the Spanish track he decided to look for pace rather than a one-off fast time. Despite not finding the best possible setup, the Portuguese was nevertheless seventh in FP1 –1:40.227– just 0.297s off the top time. His Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates Binder –1:40.581, sixteenth– and Hanika –1:40.644, eighteenth– were not completely satisfied with a session in which they had to completely change their setups from those used in Sepang. Hanika suffered a crash at Turn 1 but escaped unharmed.

In the second session, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders took an important step forward –amongst the few able to improve their times in the afternoon. Oliveira set a solid pace, a best time of 1:40.110 –fourth– and always rode alone, finishing the first day with positive feelings. Binder’s last stint allowed him to enter the Top 10 –eighth with a time of 1:40.376– whilst Hanika climbed to fifteenth –1:40.550.

Moto3 qualifying takes place from 12:35pm tomorrow. A good grid position will be important for a race that is expected to feature a large leading group.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Danny Kent (Honda) 1:39.930
2. Isaac Viñales (KTM) 1:39.966 +0.036
3. Hiroki Ono (Honda) 1:40.015 +0.085
4. Efren Vazquez (Honda) 1:40.023 +0.093
5. Jorge Navarro (Honda) 1:40.061 +0.131
7. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:40.110 +0.180
15. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:40.376  +0.446
19. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:40.550 +0.620

Miguel Oliveira,
“In the afternoon I was much higher up on the timesheets than in the morning, I felt comfortable with used tyres and everything went pretty well. Finishing fourth in FP2 is not ideal, but we are a tenth off first place so I can’t complain too much. Today we made some changes to the bike and tomorrow we will have to do more, especially with engine braking as we are losing the most time on corner entry.

The circuit lends itself to very even times, and it will be difficult to make a difference in the qualifying session, so we have to work with the team on our strategy and we hope everything goes well.”

Brad Binder,
“On the first few laps this morning I pushed a lot, but I didn’t feel entirely comfortable. We made some changes to the setup of the bike for the afternoon session; we tried something new but the feeling was not good, the bike did not turn in well and we needed to be quicker when cornering. In contrast, on the last stint we found the way forward for us to go faster. We are 0.4s off the top riders and that’s not much –I feel I can be competitive. We know where we have to keep working and we are going in the right direction. We hope to improve tomorrow and move up the order”.

Karel Hanika,
“Today our feeling was not the best. I found it hard to set good laps and I also crashed. My feeling on the bike was very strange and I could not understand what was happening. Despite the problems, we were able to ride in the 1:41s, which is not bad. In the afternoon session my feeling didn’t improve, and we realised it might have been down to the rear tyre. We changed it and with new tyres I got a good feeling back. Then I encountered a lot of traffic and I could not complete any clean laps.

I think this weekend we will be competitive. Tomorrow we will introduce some changes to feel more comfortable with the front end. Today I think that if we had had a normal day, we would be much further up the order.”