Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira has endured a rollercoaster MotoGP season so far, as he returns to home soil once more for the AlgarveGP.
After a win at Barcelona and a podium each side - at Mugello and Sachsenring - Oliveira’s 2021 season looked to be on the up as the summer break approached but an early accident in Styria’s first free practice put paid to the Portuguese rider’s momentum.
His last visit to Portimao’s Autodromo do Algarve proofed fruitless, with his 16th place finish bringing home zero points for the Austrian outfit. Since then KTM has worked to improve their early season troubles, despite their favoured Michelin no longer on the menu, and Oliveira is confident of stronger days ahead.
"The start of the season was close to a disaster,” Oliveira stated honestly. “We suffer a lot to get around this new front compound tyre that we had as the hardest option. As you know we have been developing the bike especially in the front end to have a very stiff tyre on the front. We won with that tyre three races in 2020. I won two of them with that spec on the front and then all of a sudden we don't have that anymore. So we had to kind of transform a little bit our philosophy inside the garage - how we look at the bike, how we approach the weekend, in terms of setting, but we just couldn't get this compound to work for us.
“After we started understanding a little bit more and improve the bike, improved the riding and things started to come along. Mugello was basically the turnaround point. It was many details together that allowed us to go from the frame, from the setting, from the fuel, from the ride-height device, many technical stuff helped us to be faster. When you combine all these little details together you can increase a lot your chances to fight for good results.
“We did an amazing four races in a row with three podiums, and it was a nice moment,” he continued. “For sure it was a moment where I could confirm to myself that I could do good results in a row at least. I could be there challenging for every race.
“I believe I'm one of the best riders on the grid and I'm still a bit far from my real potential - I feel I still have a lot to give and a lot to achieve.
"After the summer break, unfortunately, I crashed in Spielberg, already in FP1, due to a traction setting problem and I injured my hand. This injury unfortunately was more limiting than I expected and this really forced us to come into the weekends not really expecting a lot, trying to at the same time understand the bike - how we could go faster, how we could develop for the future.
“For sure it was not an easy time. Nothing was there. A lot of things were missing, especially from my side, from the bike side and we couldn't match. Me and the bike were completely disconnected and we have been battling to find this connection with the rider and the bike. It's I think the lowest point of the season and I think it's finished. So let's see.”
Despite acknowledging his disappointing season, the three-time MotoGP race winner is as determined as ever to return to the top.
“I'm not hungry, I'm starving,” he admitted. “I'm starving for results. I want to finish the season high. I want it really bad and, of course the home GP is special, but it will be taken like another GP, with the same ambition and the same will and hunger to perform.
“Difficult season for sure, especially this second half,” he summarised simply. “It's a season where I feel I could have done much better in some places, but we have always kept a positive attitude and we've been fighting each race to get the most out of it.
“In 2022 I think we will have a more complete package and performing better in qualifying so this is the goal. I think we are one of the manufacturers that push a little bit more on the front and this is something we need to fix. I'm looking into the next season as a season where we make as less mistakes as possible.
“I think I have a lot of unreached potential that I feel I will reach sooner than later. As I said I also want to be a better rider every season so of course fixing the mistakes of the past is one of my targets to become better.”