Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira took a dramatic victory at Round 16 of the MotoGP Moto3 World Championship at Australia’s Phillip Island Circuit on Sunday and moves up to second place on the leader board with two rounds to go.
Efren Vazquez was second and Oliveira’s teammate Brad Binder took the podium third in a race that saw six of the top eight riders on the KTM RC 250 GP. Following Jorge Navarro in fourth place was a steam train of KTM riders led by Jakub Kornfeil, who was followed by Roman Fenati, Philipp Oettl and Isaac Vinales who finished in positions 5-8.
Karel Hanika, the third of the trio of Red Bull KTM Ajo riders went off the track and out of the lead group in lap 12 but made a good recovery to finish just inside the points at fourteenth.
Oliveira, who started second on the grid, has now won two races and finished twice in the last four rounds. He was the lead rider for much of the sweeping 23-lap race. Once again he proved to be a master tactician, riding in the front group for almost the entire race that finally came down to a group of five riders all within one second of each other going into the closing laps. Oliveira then carefully positioned himself to take full advantage of the slipstream opportunities. He made a short break in the penultimate lap but was still challenged by the hard charging contenders. He then managed to escape and crossed the line just 00.132 seconds ahead of Vazquez.
Miguel Oliveira, speaking in the finish area said: “I just realized now that the championship is still on. I cannot believe what a crazy race. I noticed the group was not so big so finally I was a bit more relaxed. I still wanted to be first or second around the last lap and then I got a bit of distance to catch Jakub’s (Kornfeil) slipstream and finally I could defend myself in the whole lap. I am so happy for my team. This was a great win. Obviously with fifty points still up for grabs and us being forty off the top, anything is possible, although my focus is to continue as we have been doing at the two remaining races. As we saw in this race, anything can happen, and in the end you also have to have some luck. Moto3 is a class in which everyone is fighting up to the final moment, and every metre of the track counts”
Binder was also a race leader for much of the time up to Lap 15 when he got pushed wide and lost contact with the lead group by two seconds. He then went on the charge, made a strong recovery and three laps later was back in podium contention. Speaking of the race incident Binder said another rider hooked his front brake lever.
Brad Binder: “When this happened the front closed completely. I was so lucky that I had that space. Otherwise I could have ended up in turn three, but even when I got knocked off the track I still pulled back the gap. It was a good race for me even though I was a bit disappointed with third. It would have been good to get a second or even a first. My bike was amazing. The handling was incredible and I am pretty sure I could have done better. I pushed very hard on every lap, even after going off-track, but eventually I was slipstreamed almost at the finish line for second. I’m glad to be back on the podium and eager for more at Sepang”
The race took a dramatic twist in Lap 14 with championship leader Danny Kent crashed with Enea Bastianini, which not only effectively moved Oliveira up the leader board into second place past Bastianini, but also carried through the title fight to the next round at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. The championship then returns to Europe for the final round at Valencia in early November.
MotoGP of Australia, Philip Island Circuit – Round 16
1. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM, 37:34.742
2, Efren Vazquez (ESP), Honda, 37:34.874
3. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, 37:34.903
4. Jorge Navarro (ESP), Honda, 37:34.912
5. Jakub Kornfeil (CZE), KTM, 37:35.030
6. Romano Fenati (ITA), KTM, 37:35.748
7. Philipp Oettl (GER), KTM, 37:40.942
8. Isaac Viñales (ESP), KTM, 37:40.995
9. Alexis Masbou (FRA), Honda, 37:41.064
10. Remi Gardner (AUS), Mahindra, 37:42.309
12. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (MAL), KTM, 37:44.830
14. Karel Hanika (CZE), KTM, 37:52.534
18. Ana Carrasco (ESP), KTM, 38:17.205
19. Olly Simpson (AUS), KTM, 38:58.766
DNF Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM
DNF Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG)
Championship Standings after 16 of 18 rounds
1. Danny Kent (GBR), Honda, 244
2. Oliveira 204
3. Bastianini 188
4. Fenati 165
5. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) Honda, 16
6. Vazquez 155
7. Binder 126
8. Navarro 121
9. Vinales 103
10. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Honda, 92
14. Oettl 66
15. Kornfiel 63
17. Hanika 43
20. Migno 30
23. Khairuddin 19
1. Honda 375
2. KTM 291
3. Mahindra 113
4. Husqvarna 85
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