MotoGP 2020 - Round 15, Portimao (Portugal)
- Oliveira blasts to the fastest ever motorcycle lap of Algarve International Circuit
- Pol Espargaro is only half a second slower in 9th, Brad Binder takes 13th on the grid
- Fernandez secures sixth Moto3 Pole Position with the KTM RC4
The scenic and demanding course in Portimao provided a clean slate for the MotoGP field. Aside from a small familiarization test in October, the Portuguese venue was a mystery for the majority of the grid. There was a lack of data, settings and knowledge for the sweeping 4.6km layout but the Red Bull KTM teams immediately got down to work and chipped away at the lap-times through Friday and Saturday.
Although he missed the buzz and noise of a home crowd, Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira was among the fastest riders throughout Free Practice and, with Pol Espargaro just ahead, was 2nd with his RC16 in FP4 leading up to the Q2 qualification run.
Q2 was sunny and carried a track temperature of 30 degrees but Oliveira was in sizzling form. The 25-year old used his final flying attempt to snatch Pole by a tenth of a second and continued the build-up of hope and expectation for the race. Espargaro was the quickest rider through the first sector of the circuit but struggled to unlock other sections of the lap and rested in 9th; less than four tenths of a second behind the Portuguese.
Just a tenth of a second prevented Brad Binder from making the cut to Q2 on Saturday afternoon. The South African was extremely close to the second phase of qualification but will now occupy 13th spot on the grid.
Red Bull KTM Tech3 were able to benefit from the experience of KTM test rider Mika Kallio as a late fill-in rider for the absent Iker Lecuona. Kallio, who hasn’t raced since the closing round of MotoGP 2019 in Spain, was just two seconds adrift of the quickest time to exit Q1 and will fill 22nd.
The last 25 laps of MotoGP action this season will begin at 15.00 CET on Sunday.
Miguel Oliveira: “This feels really good. To be honest I feel good every time I go out on the bike at this track and I’m enjoying every lap. This was the key to perform well. When you enjoy the bike somehow things become easier. It’s nice to do my first Pole here in Portugal but we still want to have a strong race here tomorrow and finish the job.”
Pol Espargaro: “It was a good in the morning and we had a decent feeling with the bike, used tires, and tires but in the afternoon I missed knowing the full limits of this track. It’s easy to find the limit of the bike but where to take it in the third sector was the problem. It was the hardest part to learn and we’re talking about hardly anything at all in braking! I just needed more laps. I think we are very strong with the race rhythm so we’ll push but it won’t be too easy from 9th place. We’ll see what we can manage.”
Brad Binder: “We were really unfortunate just to miss out on Q2. The frustrating thing for me is that I have the pace and I was capable of a lap-time a good couple of tenths quicker than I managed. In general, I think we’ve done a good job of getting my feeling better, especially because I felt like I was struggling a lot, in FP3 in particular, and we made a couple of steps forward. The race pace is not too bad at all we just need a bit more time on the bike. The circuit here is really hard. If you make just a couple of small mistakes in places it costs you all the way round. It’s been good to learn so far and I think I’ll be stronger tomorrow.”
Mika Kallio: “I did a lot of laps today and more than yesterday. I thought I’d get better used to the bike, the tires and especially to the track, but in the end, the lap time didn’t really arrive. My riding apparently is not on the level to get the tires working and I feel like the bike is on the limit all the time. This is the main thing and it’s hard to say, how to go through that. Of course, everything comes from my side, but somehow I must be able to push more and stress the tires more in order to get the temperature in and generate the grip.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez will begin his last Grand Prix in the Moto3 class from Pole Position. The Spaniard, bound for Moto2 with the same team in 2021, took his KTM RC4 to the top of the time sheets for the sixth time this season. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Ayumu Sasaki was 3rd for the team's first front row ranking. Just behind is brandmate Albert Arenas; the world championship leader will begin the crucial 21-lap race from 6th tomorrow as he bids to become the factory’s fourth title holder in the class.
Raul Fernandez: “It's amazing and I'm very satisfied. Both the team and I are going to work hard to get the win at the last race of the season. I want to say goodbye to the class in style. I had a great time at the last four GPs and I really enjoyed myself, so I hope I can do the same tomorrow."
Jorge Martin was 6th fastest on the Red Bull KTM Ajo machine in Moto2, just two tenths from Pole. Teammate Tetsuta Nagashima will launch from 10th position.
Races: November 22nd, 2020 – Moto3 12.00 CET | Moto2 13.20 CET | MotoGP 15.00 CET
Results Qualifying MotoGP Grande Prémio MEO de Portugal
1. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:38.892
2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha +0.044
3. Jack Miller (AUS) Ducati +0.146
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Honda +0.264
5. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +0.307
9. Pol Espargaro (ESP) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.392
13. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:39.390
22. Mika Kallio (FIN) Red Bull KTM Tech3 (Q1) 1:41.753
Results Qualifying Moto2 Grande Prémio MEO de Portugal
1. Remy Gardner (AUS) 1:42.592
2. Luca Marini (ITA) +0.118
3. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA) +0.129
6. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.206
10. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo +401
Results Qualifying Moto3 Grande Prémio MEO de Portugal
1. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo 1:48.051
2. Jeremy Alcoba (ESP) Honda +0.185
3. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.240
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