KTM returned to one of the sites of their three 2020 Grand Prix victories for the third round of the 2021 campaign and it was home hero Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira who was the top qualifier with the KTM RC16. The Portuguese claimed 10th position at the Algarve International Circuit after his second Q2 run of the season.
– Oliveira heads the fourth row with Brad Binder 15th, Danilo Petrucci 18th and Iker Lecuona 19th
– Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncü the top qualifier in Moto3™ with 7th place
– 2nd for Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Remy Gardner on the Moto2™ grid
Many eyes were on Miguel Oliveira for only the second visit by MotoGP to the challenging and technical Algarve International Circuit. The 25-year-old Portuguese led the KTM wing in the premier class but was also a firm favorite thanks to his dominant performance in the 2020 event last November. Both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Tech3 KTM Factory Racing tried to manage with the altered tire allocation for the first MotoGP round on European asphalt.
Free Practice began in damp conditions but sunshine and pleasant temperatures graced the rest of the weekend schedule and the grippy undulating layout. Oliveira was swiftly into the automatic Q2 places and then set the 2nd fastest lap-time in FP4 as the riders took the final steps to work through race pace set-up. During the 15-minute Q2 Oliveira rose as high as 5th with his first chrono attack, he then suffered a fast crash at the right-hander Turn 9 which ended his second effort and the session altogether. In 10th spot Oliveira was still only half a second from repeating his Pole Position from 2020.
Teammate Brad Binder was close to pushing through to Q1 but a small mistake ruined his best flying lap effort. The South African had initially marked the quickest time through the first sector. Binder will eye the start lights from the fifth row and has Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci (18th) and Iker Lecuona (19th) behind him.
The 25 lap MotoGP race begins at 14.00 CET tomorrow and directly after the Moto3 Grand Prix.
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a short qualifying. I crashed in the second run where I lost the front, and I was improving both sectors so it might have put me higher in the standings but anyway it’s all done. So, we start from the fourth row and that’s what we need to accept. The race pace was not so bad, we did a good FP4 and this morning was a good pace. We will find out tomorrow what we can achieve. I hope to make a smooth race and move forward from the start, gain as many positions as I can and do my best.”
Brad Binder: “A little bit tough today. I would have liked to have been stronger than we were. I didn’t do a fantastic job with my riding either. It was difficult to do a really fast lap-time. In FP4 I was more comfortable so I’m excited for the race tomorrow I think we can do a good job, a solid job. I’m looking forward to a good fight and winning a lot of positions.”
Danilo Petrucci:“We improved a little bitbut I didn’t manage to do a perfect qualification. Obviously, I’m not very pleased about my starting position but I’m happy that we improved our feeling on the bike. I want to be further in front. I still have to learn a lot and make kilometers in order to be faster. I think we are quite close to the others. So, the target is to get even closer to the front. It’s going to be a challenging race tomorrow.”
Iker Lecuona: “I improved a lot.With each run I went a bit quicker and tried to learn this track more with the big bike, as it definitely isn’t easy. In the beginning I was struggling a lot morebut now I got closer contact to the other riders, so I’m happy. For sure, I need to continue my race preparation during Warm Up tomorrow morning in order to keep that fast pace. I’m very optimistic and I think we can do a decent race.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncü was the fastest KTM RC4 rider in Moto3. The young Turk will sit 7th on the grid and was just over a second away from the Pole Position time. Red Bull KTM Ajo pair Jaume Masia and Pedro Acosta – the sole winners in Moto3 so far this season – were 11th and 12th respectively. In Moto2 Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner both remained in the top six throughout the Free Practice sessions on Friday and Saturday morning. When it came to qualification Gardner was just fractions of a second from Sam Lowes in the tussle for Pole Position and will sit 2nd and in the middle of the first row for the final race of the day on Sunday. Fernandez was 10th.
The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve also staged the very first round of the 2021 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup on Saturday and David Alonso rode to a confident victory by over four seconds from his nearest rival.
Races: April 18th, 2021 – Moto3 12.20 CET | MotoGP 14.00 CET | Moto2 15.30 CET
Results Qualifying MotoGP Grande Premio 888 de Portugal
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +1.38.862
2. Alex Rins (ESP) Suzuki +0.089
3. Johann Zarco (FRA) Ducati +0.129
4. Jack Miller (AUS) Ducati +0.199
5. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha +0.241
10. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.583
15. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:39.776
18. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:40.202
19. Iker Lecuona (ESP) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:40.408
Results Qualifying Moto2 Grande Premio 888 de Portugal
1. Sam Lowes (GBR) 1:42.901
2. Remy Gardner (AUS) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.023
3. Xavi Vierge (ESP) +0.174
10. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.488
Results Qualifying Moto3 Grande Premio 888 de Portugal
1. Andrea Migno (ITA) Honda 1:47.423
2. Dennis Foggia (ITA) Honda +0.149
3. Jeremy Alcoba (ESP) Honda +0.279
7. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.063
10. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.192
11. Jaume Masia (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.199
12. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.288