Miguel Oliveira vows to refuse Tech 3 offer as rivals circle for his KTM seat

Miguel Oliveira goes on record to say he won't accept rumoured offer from KTM to remain with manufacturer but return to Tech 3 for the 2023 MotoGP season

Miguel Oliveira - KTM

Miguel Oliveira has revealed he is exploring options outside KTM for the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season after it emerged the best offer from the manufacturer will likely be a switch back to Tech 3 Racing.

The Portuguese rider, who made his MotoGP debut in 2019 with the satellite Tech 3 KTM squad, was responsible for the stalwart French squad’s maiden premier class win with a shock success at the 2020 Styrian MotoGP before landing a second in the season finale at his home Portuguese MotoGP.

Earning him a spot in the factory outfit for 2021, Oliveira has since landed two more wins, at the 2021 Catalunya MotoGP and 2022 Indonesia MotoGP. However, while only five riders on the grid can claim to have more wins at this level, Oliveira’s success has been interspersed with inconsistency elsewhere.

Currently outside the overall top ten in the standings, despite his wet weather victory in Mandalika, the staccato results sheet has prompted KTM to consider an alternative line-up for 2023, including offering Oliveira an extension but only on the Tech 3 RC16.

However, despite their success together in 2020, Oliveira is adamant he won’t return to the satellite team next season.

“Yeah, I am [looking elsewhere],” he told Crash.net following the Italian MotoGP. “I told the management that I do not accept the Tech3 spot and that I want my factory seat.

“Should this not be possible, for sure I will take other options into consideration.

“But at the moment there is nothing really relevant to add about that.”

What are Oliveira and KTM’s options for 2023 MotoGP seat?

Having maintained something of a watching brief when it came to matters of the rider market in the wake of Suzuki’s exit call, KTM has begun churning the rumour mill.

With Brad Binder locked into a long-term deal, Oliveira has looked under threat for his factory seat for some time now. Indeed, despite appearing like a potential title contender at this stage of the season last year, Oliveira damaged his shoulder and his confidence during the second-half of the year and hasn’t really recovered.

Indeed, despite that against-the-odds win in Indonesia, his ninth place result last time out at Mugello was only his third trip to the top ten in 17 races.

While some of that questionable form can be attributed to a KTM package that appears to have gone the wrong way on development, Oliveira is being comfortably out-performed by his South African team-mate. However, with Tech 3 suffering even more with an indifferent RC16 being campaigned by its two rookie riders, Oliveira has reason to be sceptical about a return.

It means he is another high calibre racer on the shelf for 2023 with early speculation suggesting he is being chased by Honda for a spot at LCR, or possibly a switch to Ducati machinery if there is room for him.

That spot could be opened up by Jack Miller coming in the other direction, with sources claiming the two parties have been deep in negotiations recently. Alternatively, Alex Rins and its former team leader Pol Espargaro have also been touted.

Meanwhile, KTM’s openness about a Tech 3 deal for Oliveira would suggest either Remy Gardner or Raul Fernandez will have to make way. The smart money is likely on Fernandez, the Spaniard having made no secret of his desire to explore options beyond KTM even before he made his MotoGP debut with the Austrian squad. 

The 2021 Moto2 runner-up had been linked with Yamaha before news of RNF Racing’s defection to Aprilia, but he is now in the frame for one of the satellite RS-GP entries instead.