Big step forward for Miguel Oliveira at Assen


Portuguese rider will head the second row for the Dutch GP in fourth, after a notable improvement onboard his KTM; Brad Binder will start 17th, his best result so far in the Moto2 class.

Miguel Oliveira was at his best on Saturday at the Dutch GP, where after a difficult FP3 he placed fourth in qualifying -a tenth of a second off pole position. On a day of changing conditions, with the last Free Practice in the wet and qualifying in the dry, Brad Binder had a good feeling with his bike, and placed 17th -his best result in Moto2 to date, putting him on the sixth row.

FP3 was not an easy session for the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 riders, who lacked kilometers on their bikes in wet conditions. Although it seemed in the first twenty minutes that Brad Binder could finish in the top positions, the South African could not continue to lower his time and dropped from ninth to 22nd, with his best lap a 1:56.232. Three places back, in 25th, was Miguel Oliveira, who was not comfortable in the conditions and set a best time of 1:56.552.

The opening stages of qualifying saw a red flag shown 15 minutes in, after a heavy crash by Lorenzo Baldassarri. After resuming the action on a track that already had a dry line established, Oliveira went up to fifth and Binder ninth. On his last stint, the Portuguese rider again lowered his time, to 1:38.615, finishing fourth and just over a tenth off pole. Binder was unable to maintain his position despite improving his time, finishing 17th -1:39.523.

Tomorrow the Red Bull KTM Ajo team will contest their first Moto2 race at Assen, with the regular timetable changing: The intermediate class contest will start at 2:30pm local time, after MotoGP.

Results (Qualifying Practice)
1. Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) 1:38.468
2. Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) 1:38.569 +0.101
3. Thomas Luthi (Kalex) 1:38.583 +0.115
4. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:38.615 +0.147
5. Fabio Quartararo (Kalex) 1:38.896 +0.428
17. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:39.523 +1.055


“We have improved today, and in fact it is my best placing in a QP since I arrived in Moto2, but we are still far from where we would like to be. It is a step in the right direction though; it has been a long time since I have felt as comfortable as I felt today, so I am happy. In the wet I think I’m in very good shape, although in mixed conditions I found things a little harder. Hopefully tomorrow in the race we can improve further and gain positions, as we have done before this year.”

“In the morning, in the wet, we found it very difficult. I had practically no feeling with the bike, especially with the rear. Luckily, we were able to have a qualifying session with some dry laps and a better feeling, fulfilling our objective of getting onto the first or second row. Tomorrow we will have to complete a strong first lap and fight to be among the top three. We will not know what we can aspire to until the middle of the race, but I’m eager to fight and take risks for the podium -or even the victory.”