‘Not worthy’ Miguel Oliveira hits out at Brad Binder KTM promotion

Miguel Oliveira says he has been made to feel 'not worthy' after KTM promotes Brad Binder ahead of him for the 2020 MotoGP KTM factory ride

Oliveira Zarco Austrian MotoGP

Miguel Oliveira has aired his displeasure at the news erstwhile team-mate Brad Binder has given the nod over him to ride the Red Bull KTM Factory RC16 in the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.

Becoming the final team to officially confirm its riders for 2020, KTM revealed it will reshuffle its original rider selection by promoting Binder to the factory team alongside Espargaro before he has turned a wheel on the RC16. Iker Lecuona joins Oliveira at Tech 3 Racing.

The South African, who is being promoted from the Moto2 class, was originally signed to ride the KTM RC16 alongside Oliveira at the satellite Tech 3 Racing outfit, but in the wake of Johann Zarco’s premature exit from the factory team, it is prioritising Binder for promotion despite his rookie status.

It’s a move that has upset Oliveira, who feels KTM’s decision to choose a similarly-aged rookie over him makes him feel ‘not worthy’.

“KTM approached me during the Misano GP and, they weren't really asking me anything or giving me the option, they just said that there was this seat that was available in the factory team and they were thinking about putting Mika [Kallio] there," Oliveira told reporters, including our sister publication Crash.net ahead of the Australian MotoGP at Philip Island.

"And I said, well if it's Mika [getting the ride] I think it's completely fine for me, because I had built a good relationship with the [Tech3] team and I think it doesn't make sense to make the switch.”

Is Miguel Oliveira’s criticism of KTM justified?

You can certainly understand Oliveira’s frustration. He’s had a year on the KTM RC16 and, by all accounts, has enjoyed a positive – if somewhat inconsistent - rookie season that has been levelled plenty of praise. It’s praise that will feel faint at this moment though.

Results took an evident upturn when the Tech 3 team got its hands on the latest specification RC16 (which it should have had from day one) and Oliveira was at least the match for Zarco on the factory bike, with a best finish of eighth on the team’s home soil in Austria.

Moreover, Oliveira says the hierarchy relative to Binder – their age and the fact he is one year down the line in terms KTM’s rider programme – should have seen him receive first refusal.  

“This is the thing I want to look at, the KTM relationship in the long term and having chosen a rookie and a guy [Binder] who is the same age as me makes me feel a bit like I'm not worthy enough to be there.

"But it's their decision and I respect it. And it doesn't change any single thing on my mind of being here and doing the maximum."

From KTM’s point of view, having two rookies (Binder and Lecuona) in a team still finding its way with its machinery might have worked against Oliveira if bosses preferred to split resources for the greater good, while the Austrian manufacturer will be quick to point out that all riders will be riding the same specification bike in 2020 so it shouldn’t matter.

However, Oliveira says that while Tech 3 should receive parity on paper, he says it doesn’t happen in reality.

"In any case, you know we were supposed to have a factory bike this year that didn't happen until recently and who knows about next year? 

“The thing is, when you are offered the factory seat there are many other things at stake, like first of all you are guaranteed that you have a factory bike.

"Secondly, you are more involved in the development of the parts and you get to try many things, which for me as a one-year experience MotoGP rider made more sense to be there.

"But it doesn't make sense to them and this is the thing where we disagree. But again, I respect that. There's nothing I can do."