MotoGP: Miguel Oliveira eyes 2021 Championship fight

Miguel Oliveira surprised many in 2020 with two victories but feels he can do even better in 2021.

Miguel Oliveira had a stunning 2020 MotoGP campaign with the Tech3 Team, handing them their first two victories in the premier class of Grand Prix racing after their 20-year stint in the class, a year which has warmed many fans hearts knowing how long Tech3 have had to wait, not forgetting that Team Manager Herve Poncharal who had completely given up on the dream of winning a MotoGP race after moving to KTM after becoming bored with Yamaha.

Oliveira took a breathtaking win in the Styrian Grand Prix, timing his move to perfection knowing that Jack Miller was going to make a dive at race leader Pol Espargaro at the last corner to attempt to win the race, Oliveira was braced for this overtake and had carefully calculated what would happen after following Jack Miller in the last few laps, noting where he was weak and strong. Therefore when the last corner of the race came around Oliveira was braced for a dive bomb on Espargaro from the ‘Jackass’ which would almost certainly push Miller and Espargaro wide which it did, this allowed Oliveira to capitalise and sail past the duo to take the race win which stunned everyone watching the unbelievable events unfold.

This win was KTM’s second win of the season and truly capped off how far KTM have come, being able to win races with both their factory and satellite teams and proving that the hard work behind the scenes was paying off tenfold, yet this wasn’t enough for Oliveira who still had more in the tank. When it was announced that the MotoGP calendar would finish at Portimao, a circuit which Oliveira won at twice already in 2020 competing in the Portuguese Superbike Championship, we all knew something special was on the cards.

Oliveira’s appearance in the Portuguese SBK championship on a 2020 Yamaha R1

No one could’ve predicted the sheer domination on display at Portimao from Oliveira, we knew he would do well, but Pole, race fastest lap and victory? No chance. Oliveira let everyone know he had pace in the FP1 session taking P1, giving a hint of what was to come. When Saturday rolled around the qualifying session was no exception to the rule of dominance with Oliveira storming to pole position on home soil, this would be his fifth career pole position and first premier class pole position. Oliveira is not a qualifying man at all, as we mentioned it was his fifth pole position in his entire career spanning 10 complete seasons therefore with this in mind, we all knew Oliveira had something special up his sleeve.

As if by magic on race day, Oliveira completely wiped the floor with his competition and was able to clear off at the front and open a 3-second lead within the first 5 opening laps of the race demonstrating the sheer speed he had at the track he knew so well, of course, his track knowledge was an advantage to him but you can have all the knowledge in the world but if you’re not fast, you are not winning races, fact.

Oliveira won the race by 3.193 which included slowing down on the final lap to celebrate crossing the line in front of his family and friends. Despite this incredible season and two race wins Oliveira felt there was still more he could do, branding the season as ‘OK’, he said, “Apart from 3 DNF’s, I felt like I had an ‘OK’ season, I felt there were a couple of times I could’ve done a little bit better with 1 or 2 positions.

Victory at Portimao

We need to be happy as we have gained a lot of experience and have learned a lot and this is what we need to carry into 2021.”

He moves to the factory KTM team for 2021 alongside Brad Binder in a move which on paper will work incredibly well with Binder and Oliveira being described as a ‘dream team’ by many given their Moto2 and Moto3 experience together as teammates, speaking on 2021 and his move to the factory team Oliveira said, “It’s a step we need to take if we want to fight for a championship, the factory team has more people working for the same goal, I feel they have different tools to help me develop as a rider and that’s what you want and it’s what KTM want to do so it’s a good marriage.”

If 2020 is anything to go by, we can expect KTM fireworks in 2021 with Binder and Oliveira together in the orange colours.

Featured images – www.motogp.com

SBK Photo – Luis Silva @lta.too

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