Five minutes with Portugese Moto3 star Miguel Oliveira

Oliveira with crew after their Mugello victory
Oliveira with crew after their Mugello victory Picture: Bonnie Lane

Third in the Moto3 World Championship, Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira faces the second half of the season as one of the leading candidates for victory in the nine remaining races.

An injury in training at the German Grand Prix has not detracted from the optimism of the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider. Next week he will race in Indianapolis after three weeks of recovery from a fracture of the fourth metacarpal of his left hand. He faces the second part of the season with confidence boosted by his good performances in the previous rounds.

First of all, how are you feeling? What phase of recovery are you in?
“Every day I’m feeling better. At the moment I’m doing a recovery plan that allows me to gain movement in my hand and finger strength. With the fracture I had, it’s a little early to think about getting in optimal condition for Indy, but I’m working hard every day so that I can approach the race as fit as possible.”

Despite this incident, do you still think you can fight for the title?
“Yes of course. This is racing and, until it is mathematically possible, I will continue working with my team thinking about this. It is true that we have lacked a little luck in some races, but I think we were at a good level in many Grands Prix and we have nine races in which we will again fight at the highest level.”

What is your analysis of the first half of the season?
“I think it has been a first half of the season in which we started very strongly but did not finish the races. We lacked a little luck, as finishing the first two races we would be much higher up in the standings. The overall analysis is very positive. We have two wins from the last three races and I think that is what counts. To first win at Mugello, then in Assen was great, and the bike is always giving maximum performance.”

Was it hard to deal with the start to the season?
“Of course, after failing to finish two races in a row I was a little sad, because I wanted to finish a race. I got pole position in Argentina, where I started well but finished fourth. Then we went back to Europe with a podium at Jerez, and then we had bad luck at Le Mans and then the victory at Mugello, a fifth place in Catalonia and another victory at Assen. Since we have returned to Europe we have been very competitive, always finishing in the top five.”

Was the podium at Jerez a major turning point for the rest of the season, or was the victory in Mugello more important?
“We needed the podium at Jerez to give us confidence. From Jerez onwards we started believing more in our ability. We were very consistent and we knew we were very fast, but in the race we could not quite finish the job. At Mugello we had a major change because we went out there to win.”

What has improved with the bike from the first race to now?
“Above all we have improved the setup of the bike, because we have not introduced any new parts. We have been testing them, but what we had already always worked out better for us.”

When you refer to the setup of the bike, do you feel more comfortable?
“Yes, we have adapted to it, but much depends on the track. The tracks vary a lot, the conditions are very different and in the end we have to improvise a little.”

How do you see the level of competitions this season in the Moto3 World Championship?
“Very high. We are riding very fast, with faster times than last year. Danny Kent, who is the series leader, has had things very easy, and we have to complicate life a little for him.”

Do you think you can do that?
“Of course, it depends on me, but also on the luck that he has. In this sport you are not alone on the track and anything can happen -both to him and for me, as was demonstrated in Germany. But it is better to continue focusing on our own work and being up at the front to win races.”

Looking ahead to the second half of the season, are there circuits you like more or less than those you have already visited?
“They are different. We’ve got some circuits where I am normally very strong, and I will have to work even harder in order to gain an advantage. The bike is working well and we have to go to every circuit believing that everything will be fine, with a totally positive mindset.”

Which are the circuits that best suit you?
“Silverstone, Misano, Motegi, Phillip Island and Malaysia: circuits that I like a lot and where I’ve always been fast.”

How do you see the World Championship?
“I don’t know. I don’t care. We are here so that we can dream of the title and fight for it. It’s going to be hard, but I really do think I can dream of the title. However, we have to go race by race.”

Will you only end up satisfied this season if you win the title?
“No, of course not. I would be happy with a season in which I fight for the title until the end, giving everything. If I don’t win, then at least it will be because the winner has had a brilliant season.”

How do you see the MotoGP World Championship?
“I think we’re noticing a big difference between the Yamaha and Honda. Marquez has also not had things go as easy as maybe he expected -but that’s the beauty of racing. Every year someone can evolve, like the bikes and riders. It’s nice to see your idol at the front and for that alone the season has been worth it.”

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