Miguel Oliveira says he ‘couldn’t look at the board’ for the opening laps of the Portuguese MotoGP after turning pole position into a resounding lead in the early stages, the hometown hero romping to a dominant second career victory at Portimao.
With his latest winners’ trophy joining the one he received for winning the Styrian MotoGP, while that success in Austria was achieved by grabbing the lead on the run to the finish line, his route to victory couldn’t have been more different in Portugal.
Already starting from his first pole position – a sizeable improvement on a previous career best starting position of fifth – Oliveira showed precisely zero nerves as he got the jump on the run to the first corner. Thereafter he was untouchable, powering away from the chasing pack to establish a lead of more than three seconds after just four laps.
With more at stake by virtue of his dominant pace, Oliveira admits the ‘long’ race means it was a different feeling crossing the line for his and Tech 3 KTM’s second win of the year.
“It was long! I had different emotions [than Styria] because in Austria it was a last lap overtake and I was there on the podium, but it was different, there was a lot of adrenaline. Here there was no battle – I started first and finished first. It was about managing emotions throughout the race and to be able to do it is nice.
“I didn’t want to look at the board for the first 3 laps, I just wanted to do my pace and my lines and try to see if anyone would go for a lunge on the inside. I started already on a 1m 40.0s and I thought that would be a good reference to see how much further I could go, then I had a 1.5s lead and from that point on I tried to extend it little by little to get to the last ten laps with a gap to manage.”
In a measure of what would transpire to be a closely-matched 2020 MotoGP season up and down the order, Oliveira’s win lifted him to ninth in the overall standings. However, in a year he would crash out twice as a result of his team-mates (Brad Binder in Jerez, Pol Espargaro in Austria), he would be just 14 points shy of third overall.
“It’s a close championship. I think this season we have seen a different format of races but also a different competitiveness in terms of riders and teams. A factory and a satellite team can win races, be on the podium, so it becomes a lot more unpredictable to manage race weekends.
“You need to be on your best every time and I predict next year it will be even harder to stand out and be the leader, but I could be wrong… that’s just my guess.”