Mahindra MGP3O rider Miguel Oliveira came within a whisker of securing a top-three podium finish in the opening round of the 2014 season at Qatar, pipped over the line by 0.015 of a second in a photo-finish, to secure a valuable fourth place.
It was a thrilling climax to a tense opening race under floodlights at the Losail circuit, with the first five in the Moto3 class crossing the finish line within 0.369 of a second, and the leader of the next group just two-tenths behind.
Oliveira, who claimed the only Indian manufacturer in MotoGP’s first podium last season, had qualified on the fourth row, but showed his race-craft and intelligence as he got away with the leading group, then gradually picked his way to the front of a high-class gang disputing third.
By the finish they had all closed up and the fight was for the lead. Oliveira was third as they came onto the long finishing straight, but with five riders all slipstreaming and fighting for advantage, he narrowly lost the position over the line.
New Mahindra rider Arthur Sissis was forced to withdraw from his first race for the team, after suffering a savage attack of tonsillitis. Still suffering in morning warm-up, the team withdrew the Australian before the start.
Mahindra fields not only two MGP3O machines in the official team, but this year also six more machines supplied to private teams. The best finisher was Brad Binder, securing a point in a fighting 15th place.
The Qatar GP is the first of 17 rounds in the 2014 World Championship.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – Fourth Place-
To be honest, I didn’t expect this result. I always felt confident on the bike but I was having some problems in one section, and qualifying on the fourth row was pretty bad. I was hoping to get away with the front group, and from the start I just tried to keep up, to wait and see what would happen at the end. On the last lap I tried everything, but with this long straight it was very hard to get the podium. But it was a crazy race, and I am happy with my performance.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO Mahindra Racing
My heart is still beating at 200 beats per minute – it was an incredible race. Hats off to Miguel, and hats off to the technical team, who managed to do something almost unbelievable, I think. We were less than three tenths from victory and in a photo-finish for the podium. I don’t think we could ask for a better start to the season. I am phenomenally satisfied: it shows that all the work over the winter was in the right direction.”