Barcelona, June 16 (IANS) The Mahindra pair EfrÃ©n VÃ¡zquez and Miguel Oliveira finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Catalunyan Grand Prix, here Sunday.
The double top-six is the only Indian international motorcycle racing team’s best result so far, earning valuable points to improve the all-new MGP3O machine’s strong standing in the championships.
The race was a personal triumph for VÃ¡zquez. The 26-year-old racer from Bilbao in northern Spain missed the last two races after breaking his collarbone in practice in France. Still not fully healed, he gritted his teeth and even took the lead mid-race and eventually came in fifth for his best finish of the season.
Oliveira, the 18-year old from Portugal, started from the front row for the second time this year, and played a strong part in the seven-strong breakaway. By the end, he had lost a couple of seconds on his team-mate, but held his pace to win a strong fight for sixth.
Vazquez said: “I am very happy with this race even though I couldn’t fight for the podium right until the end. Fighting in the first group demonstrates the level of our performance with the new bike. The setting of the bike was perfect.
“My main issue was my shoulder. I need more time to let it completely recover because at the end of the race it was difficult to move. It was difficult to ride in such a big battle when I am not at 100 percent. After five or six laps, my strength was dropping and the pain increasing.”
Summing up his race, Oliveira said: “It was an okay race. I got caught up battling with Jack Miller and we both lost touch with the front group. It was a bit difficult to fight today, but it was important to finish and I am happy we could still get sixth; and sixth in the championship is not bad.”
Mahindra Racing CEO Mufaddal Choonia said: “It was a very good performance from the boys today. I wouldn’t say I am totally happy, in spite of a double top six. I think we could have finished a couple of places higher had it not been for EfrÃ©n’s shoulder, which really hindered him in the second half of the race.”