'Special' event for Oliveira, Syahrin 'better prepared'

'It’s the closest GP we get from Portugal, so it’s very special for me' - Miguel Oliveira, Spanish MotoGP.
'Special' event for Oliveira, Syahrin 'better prepared'

This weekend's Spanish MotoGP at Jerez will be a 'special' event for rookie Miguel Oliveira, being the nearest thing that the Portuguese rider has to a home event.

Oliveira - who tested for Red Bull KTM Tech3 at the circuit last November - has already scored points in two of the opening three races, including eleventh place in Argentina, when he finished hot-on-the-heels of factory KTM star Pol Espargaro.

“Jerez is a very nice grand prix, first of all, because it’s very close to my country," Oliveira said. "It’s the closest GP we get from Portugal and therefore also the biggest attendance from Portuguese fans, so it’s very special for me.

"It’s also a track, which I like a lot, so I’m looking forward very much to ride there again. After the test in November of course there are already some points, which I know, I need to improve on my riding.

"Of course, the target for this race is to fight for the points again and I think this is where we should stay the whole season. After the result in Austin I want to get back up and work hard to improve.”

Oliveira is currently fourth in the Rookie of the Year standings, albeit only one point behind Joan Mir and two from Francesco Bagnaia. Fabio Quartararo is currently eight points clear at the top of the Rookie table.

While Oliveira has impressed in the opening rounds, pressure is building on Hafizh Syahrin to keep pace with his rookie team-mate. The Malaysian is yet to score a point and has crossed the line last in two of the races so far this season.

“At the moment this season is quite difficult," Syahrin said. "We were struggling during the first race, improved during the second round, but struggled again last time out in Texas. Therefore, I don’t really understand everything at the moment, but I believe we can fight.

"The team is pushing really hard and I feel better prepared, because after the race in Austin I was working even harder on my physical condition, so I hope we arrive in Jerez in good shape."

Like former team-mate Johann Zarco, Syahrin is hoping that the new KTM parts expected to arrive for this weekend and/or the post-race test can help transform his fortunes.

"I really wish we can improve our feeling, plus we will have some things to test there. I will try to stay with some other riders in order to learn more. Let’s see, what we can do, I just hope the best and will give my best," he said.

"Hafizh has been testing with us in November at this circuit. I think he understands the KTM RC16 better and better and he will be very eager to show his potential, his talent," said team manager Herve Poncharal.

"Spain is also his second home country, because this is where he is having his home base during the European season and we expect a tough battle in between Miguel and Hafizh. Hopefully they will push each other, which is, what we want to see.

"We know this is also a very important rendezvous, because we have the test on Monday, where KTM for sure is giving us some new things to try, which is part of the evolution process and we are also very eager, impatient and excited to go through this test on Monday.

"But first let’s start on Friday with FP1, hopefully under the Andalusian sun.”