Home hope Miguel Oliveira says he is saving himself for a run at an automatic Q2 spot until FP3 after making his local knowledge count by topping the timesheets in the first-ever MotoGP session to be held at the Portimao circuit.
An unexpected home race for Oliveira, who is coming to the end of his second season in MotoGP with the Tech 3 KTM team, the Portuguese MotoGP was revived as a late addition to the 2020 schedule, though this is the first time it has ever been held at Portimao.
While a few riders have previously tackled the unusual, undulating Algarve circuit in previous years, Oliveira knows the venue intimately and duly demonstrated that in FP1 by topping the timesheets with a rapid final effort.
Going on to set the 13th best time in FP2, Oliveira says he was confident enough about likely gains in FP3 to save his tyre and focus on Saturday morning’s session.
“It was a good day, I enjoyed every lap. It was a nice experience to discover Portimao in MotoGp for the first time. It’s true we knew this is a track with very short gaps in between riders. The overall feeling was good, I felt good on the bike.
“At the end I really didn’t put a second tyre to make the time attack to save it for tomorrow. I am quite pleased with the result, there are a couple of things on the bike to improve so I am quite happy overall.”
Despite his experience of the track, this is nonetheless the first time Oliveira has ever tackled it on a MotoGP machine, most notably at a mid-lap crest which was producing some spectacular wheeling action during FP1 and FP2.
The Styrian MotoGP race winner says he likens it to an MX race when you have to hit your point perfectly to ensure you get the best drive from the landing.
“Once you have your line, you try to hit it every time. I think it’s kind of like motocross rider when he hits the jump. When you face the jump you don’t see the end of it.
“You kind of point the bike to one direction and if everything goes well you end up where you’re supposed to land. In this case, you point the bike in one direction and you hope you exit where you want to be.”
Ahead of his switch into the KTM Factory team for 2021, Oliveira will look to wrap up 10th in the overall standings, ahead of his future team-mate Brad Binder who is 13 points behind.
With additional reporting from Thomas Westlake