Oliveira places fourth in Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Moto2 debut26/03/2017
Portuguese rider takes his best result to date in the intermediate category after battling for the podium. Binder ends his first Moto2 appearance in 20th place.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo team got their maiden Moto2 season off to a good start in Qatar, with Miguel Oliveira finishing fourth -only 3 tenths off the podium and achieving his best personal result in the intermediate category. Unlike on Saturday, the Losail International Circuit offered adequate conditions on track, and the Portuguese rider closed the Qatar GP with a good feeling and a desire to continue improving. Teammate Brad Binder, making his debut in the class, finished 20th and gained valuable experience onboard his KTM bike.
As a result of Saturday evening action being cancelled, the starting grid was set from the combined classification from Free Practice, with Miguel Oliveira 5th and Brad Binder 22nd. The Portuguese, who rode in 7th on the opening laps, improved his pace steadily and rose to fourth -close to the top three- with eleven laps to go. Despite pushing for the podium until the end, Oliveira eventually crossed the line in fourth and scored 13 points. It was his best result in Moto2.
Binder made a great effort to complete his first race in the intermediate category. The South African did not feel as comfortable on his bike as in Free Practice and was not 100% fit, but managed to finish in 20th position.
The Moto2 World Championship will return to action on April 9th at Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina.
Aki Ajo – Team Manager: “It was an excellent first race for our new Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 project. In any case, as I always say, this project is just starting; the result is good, but we still have to see where we are and where we can improve. This is a long-term project and a fourth position is fine, but our goal is obviously to end up at the top. We cannot forget this good job that we’ve done, however, and now we can celebrate this new beginning -that’s all. We have to focus on our work. It will not be easy to be up at the top in all of the races and our goal is to continue this project for many years, so it’s important to keep our goals for the future.”
Results – Race
1. Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) 40:18.480
2. Thomas Luthi (Kalex) +2.681
3. Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) +3.304
4. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +3.584
5. Alex Marquez (Kalex) +11.226
20. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +34.046
Moto2 World Championship Standing 2017
1. Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) 25 points
2. Thomas Luthi (Kalex) 20 points
3. Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) 16 points
4. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 13 points
5. Alex Marquez (Kalex) 11 points
20. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 0 points
41 BRAD BINDER
“At the beginning of the race I felt very good, except when there was a repeat of a problem with the front end that we had detected in today’s warmup, which forced me to go long on some corners. I tried to fix it, but I went wide a couple of times. I tried to do my best and finish my first race in the class. There is still a long way to go and much work ahead to improve my riding on the Moto2 bike. On the next race weekend I will try to work harder during practice to better understand the bike and prepare the setup for the race. Physically it has been quite hard, because I don’t feel 100% with my left arm. I have to focus on Argentina and continue learning.”
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
“It was a very tough race. My start was not very good, but when I started to overtake riders I found a good pace. As the race progressed, I was prepared to follow Nakagami, and sometimes I felt stronger than him, but I knew that if I tried to overtake him, we would lose Tom Luthi and I preferred to wait until later. On the last laps I gave everything, but it was difficult because Nakagami defended very well. We would not have imagined that working with this brand new KTM, with all the team gaining experience, we would be prepared to be fighting for the podium here in Qatar at the first event of the year. I am very happy to have achieved this, and I want to thank the team for the opportunity they have given me to return to this structure. Also I thank Red Bull, KTM and the whole Ajo Motorsport team for the work they have done this weekend.”