Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira backed up his Barcelona MotoGP victory with the fastest time on Friday as practice began for the German GP.
The Portuguese rider topped the standings on four separate occasions throughout FP2 with his overall best - a 1’20.690 - seeing him one of only two riders under the 1’21 barrier on his way to setting Friday’s fastest time.
“A good day for us,” Oliveira exclaimed from the Sachsenring paddock as practice concluded.
“We worked well with the two options of tyres. We ran many good laps and that gave us a little bit of expectation for the afternoon. My feeling with the bike was quite okay and I was able to put in a fast lap at the end which allowed me to understand also, how the bike could work and what we need to improve for tomorrow’s qualifying.
“Right now my goal is to go straight to Q2 from FP3, and qualify well, because here in this short track the starting position is so important.
“I know everyone is going to be a bit faster tomorrow” he continued.
“I expect my time to be maybe okay to go through Q2, but maybe it will not be so safe, so let’s see tomorrow. We always want to go faster, we have been going faster in every Grand Prix more or less, so we need to pay attention and not be so relaxed for this Friday, first position.
“[We still need] speed in a couple of points on the track, maybe sector one and two. We need to find something there to be a bit more competitive and for sure there’s still a bit of work to do in electronics and a little bit of setup, to be able to find a good compromise also for the race.
“KTM did a good job bringing good improvements on the frame. I don’t believe it’s giving everything, but small details count quite a lot in this category nowadays and I believe the rider who arrives and understands better how to get the maximum of each detail, is the one who can be faster at the end. I think, at the moment, I manage to do it a little bit better than the rest, but I don’t think it’s giving us a lot of advantages.
“We have very, very good pace. Sometimes a lot of potential to be very fast in many tracks, and every GP we showed that we were strong in one practice or another but we couldn’t manage to finish the race and so that gives the illusion that we only came up in Mugello, but it’s not quite like that. We have been working, we have been there, a little bit working in the shadows, not in the spotlight and so maybe that gives the feeling that whatever we brought to Mugello was a game changer, and it was not, it was a help, but not everything.
“I think we arrived to the point where we could improve the bike in terms of how we load the front tyre and this is a key point for us, to turn the bike in the corners - being able to use the softer compounds in the front, and make it to the race distance safely. Small things, the rest is fine tuning setup that is enhancing what we already had good in the past with this 2020 bike.”
Returning to the matter of Sunday’s race, Oliveira is confident his KTM has the pace to run with the front group but admits there is one clear threat to the whole field.
“For me, since the beginning, Marc [Marquez] is the clear favourite for the win on Sunday. We have been trying to understand what he is doing different than the others, here in this track, because he’s so successful. I believe, together with him, will come also another couple of riders who can challenge for the win and I am working to be one of them. Here, the starting position is very important, and right now we need to focus on that, to be able to then use the good pace. If you start behind, even if you have a good pace, it will become a bit difficult to make progress so I believe here particularly, we need to work on our grid position. That would be very important for us to have a good race for Sunday.”