Back in competition, after an unfortunate incident in the first race of the MotoGP Championship, at Portimão, Algarve, Miguel Oliveira managed to leave a positive mark in Austin, Texas, with a promising top 5, on the same weekend that he reached the mark of 200 GP's held throughout his career.
The weekend got off to a good start on what is considered to be one of the most demanding circuits on the MotoGP calendar. After being declared fit to compete, Miguel Oliveira was excited to be back on his Aprilia RS-GP and finished Friday's free practices in P15, having shown a progression of 1s321 from FP1 to FP2. However, two crashes in this second session delayed it from climbing the timesheets, opening up this opportunity for a potential entry into Q2 the following day.
Saturday was a recovery day for the Cryptodata Aprilia RNF MotoGP Team rider, with Oliveira managing to improve his personal best by 0s277 compared to the previous day, which left him in fifth position, but without access to Q2.
For the Sprint Race, Miguel Oliveira started from the 5th row of the starting grid, 15th. He performed an impressive first lap, moving up six places to P9, and lapped nimbly into the fight for points over the 10-lap race. With two laps to go, he manages to position himself in eighth place, a position he defended until passing the checkered flag and which allowed him to win two important points for the championship.
"It wasn't ideal to start from 15th, but we managed to make the best of the situation and recover some positions. We did what we wanted - to add points in the sprint, which is the hardest to achieve", says the Charneca de Caparica driver.
On Sunday, Miguel Oliveira started the day with a strong warm-up performance, setting the third best time of the session and preparing the 'ground' for an exciting race day.
Starting from 15th place on the grid, Oliveira knew he had a long way to go and a tough race ahead of him. A "Falcão start" catapulted him from P15 to P9 in the first sector. During the rest of the first lap, the Portuguese regained one more position and crossed the line in a strong eighth place. Miguel Oliveira continued at a blistering pace throughout the grueling 20 laps of the race and by mid-race he had moved up to sixth, consistently posting lap times as fast as the pack leaders. On lap 14, he even overtook championship leader Marco Bezzecchi, settling into fifth position, and bringing home 13 valuable World Championship points.
"The race was a bit eventful because of the crashes and the wind. We knew since the Warm Up that the conditions today were going to be a bit more tough. It was a challenge not to crash the first couple of laps, but then we managed to get a good pace and get into a rhythm that was comfortable. The team made an incredible job today, giving me a great and fast bike that performed well. Finally, it is a small victory for us to end fifth on a track, which is normally not great to me, and at the same time, it was my first race for Aprilia, that I could finish. So, I'm happy to get my season restarted like this", said proudly Miguel Oliveira.
Now, the entire MotoGP caravan returns home and prepares to return to Europe in less than 15 days at the Spanish circuit of Jerez de la Frontera, scheduled for the last weekend of April.
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