After snatching his and Tech3’s first MotoGP victory on the exit of the last corner in Spielberg, Miguel Oliveira‘s second and final win for the team couldn’t have come under more different circumstances.
Oliveira qualified on a home pole position for Sunday’s inaugural Portimao grand prix, then led for every single lap, finishing with a final victory margin of 3.1s over Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) after backing off in the closing laps.
It wasn’t just the perfect way to end the season, but also Oliveira’s Tech3 career, before moving to the official factory KTM team in 2021.
“Honestly, I am speechless,” said team boss Herve Poncharal. “We knew this weekend was going to be special, a special circuit, great weather and great people to welcome us in Portugal. But we also knew there would be some pressure and we were just hoping that everything was going to work out well.
“When we made the pole, I thought ‘Wow, we achieved something great’ and this is 50% of the weekend done, but I knew that the biggest part was ahead of us on Sunday. I didn’t sleep well last night, because I knew the expectations were big and I knew there was a possibility of a great result.
“All the Red Bull and KTM top management were here and I knew how important this race was for Miguel, so I was very tense until the MotoGP race started and once it started, it was like a fairytale.
“We didn’t expect Miguel to break away the way he did and to open such a gap in just a few laps. [Then] it was just counting down the laps and hoping for no mistake, because nothing is ever done until you see the chequered flag.
“But I’ve been impressed by how cool, calm and I would say ‘zen’ Miguel has been all weekend long. He is really a great guy, a great champion, because to cope with the pressure the way he did, means you have a lot to still demonstrate.
“This victory was the second one of the year, the second one with Miguel of course, and the second one with KTM, but maybe that one is even stronger in terms of how dominant Miguel has been.
“It was a demonstration of Miguel together with the KTM RC16 and I’m just in heaven… As I told the KTM Factory guys, he is ready, he is ‘hot’, so now you can receive a top MotoGP rider for the next two seasons.”
After the race, Tech3 announced that Oliveira’s victory was also Guy Coulon’s last race as crew chief:
It has been a very special #PortugueseGP for our Guy Coulon as well, as he will step back from the role as a crew chief, but of course stay within the team
Merci Guy #Tech3 #KTM #Racing #MotoGP @MotoGP pic.twitter.com/vX4wAoZHik
— Tech3 Racing (@Tech3Racing) November 24, 2020
Danilo Petrucci will take over Oliveira’s seat alongside Iker Lecuona next season, the Spaniard missing the last three rounds due to Covid restrictions and being replaced by KTM test rider Mika Kallio in Portimao.
“We’ve been missing Iker a lot, but still we had the great pleasure – and honour – to have Mika Kallio coming to replace Iker,” Poncharal said.
“It was not easy. He didn’t have any time on the bike almost [this year], he didn’t know the circuit. The whole grid is riding every week, so it was very difficult.
“But he did a perfect weekend, not one crash, improving his lap time nearly every session and finally a decent result [17th out of 18]. So, I would like to thank him and congratulate him.”
Poncharal concluded: “It was a long season, a tough season, but we are already thinking in a few days we’ll be a bit bored and we are really wishing to be back on the tracks as soon as possible!”
Covid restrictions permitting, the 2021 MotoGP season is scheduled to begin with a pre-season test at Sepang in February.