Heartbreak for Oliveira as bike failure ends home race early, Vinales battles to second
Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira didn’t have luck on his side as a technical issue forced him to retire from his home race after strongly contesting for the lead in the early laps of the Portuguese Grand Prix. Álex Rins made a great comeback from twenty-second to seventh, whilst Álex Márquez also moved up the order and took a point, thanks to his climb from nineteenth to fifteenth. At the front only 0.055 seconds separated Maverick Viñales from victory at Estoril. The youngster eventually finished second and added 20 valuable points to his World Championship total — just two behind series leader and today’s racewinner Sandro Cortese.
Maverick Viñales, Sandro Cortese and Miguel Oliveira led the way early on. The three fought for the lead on every corner of the Portuguese track, right up until misfortune hit Oliveira on lap three and he was forced to pull his bike in with a mechanical problem.
From then on, Viñales and Cortese exchanged the lead through to the penultimate lap, in which the Repsol rider took the reins and upped the pace. The German was close behind and it was clear that they would be fighting to the last.
Cortese decided to lay his cards on the table on the final lap, overtaking on the straight. Viñalez was faster on the twistier sections and did not back down, as a spellbinding tussle developed between the duo. Arriving at the backmarkers, Viñales attempted to slipstream to cross the line first, but Cortese held on by 55 thousandths of a second to win the race and lead the standings by two points.
Further back, Álex Rins and Álex Márquez came back through the field after recovering their feeling with their Moto3 machines. With his seventh position today, Rins made up some 16 places from his starting position and claimed nine World Championship points. Márquez also got a point, thanks to his fifteenth place on his Estoril debut.
Miguel Oliveira – DNF
“I felt good and was riding comfortably, but unfortunately I immediately noticed a problem with the front that prevented me from cornering comfortably. We don’t know where the problem came from, but the result was that I had to retire from a race in which really wanted to do well. We have to keep going forward and focus on France in two weeks time”.
Álex Rins 7th at 21.792 sec.
“The team did an incredible job over the entire weekend. We started from 21st today, which is pretty far back, but we got off to a good start and really pushed to be able to recover some positions. I got a bit stuck at the beginning in a group of riders, but later on I saw that I had good pace and could get away. That was partly thanks to a small modification made by my mechanics on the rear end for this race. I am very satisfied, because we made a nice comeback”.
Álex Márquez 15th at 26.450 sec.
“I am rather happy, because at the start of the weekend I was having problems adapting to the circuit. I got a good start and was able to make back some positions, despite it being difficult to overtake on the opening laps. I was in a group of riders fighting amongst ourselves and in the end I was able to gain experience and kilometres on the clock, which is the most important thing. It was very fun out there”.
Maverick Viñales 2nd at 0.055 sec.
“This result is very good, bearing in mind that I finished far back at Jerez and that we had a bad race there. We recovered the good feeling and the confidence with the bike again, we got a good pace going that was evident in the way that we led the race. Sandro Cortese made a less-than-sportsmanlike move on the final lap. I think that I could have just pipped him on the line, but his move across left me too far off.
These things stay on the track though, so we will see what happens in the next race. We have to wait on some improvements from Honda for Le Mans, because we can still see a big difference between ourselves and the KTMs on the straights. We have to improve the chassis a little as well. I think that Le Mans is a circuit that will go well for us”.
Source: Repsol Media