Oliveira: ‘First Sprint race will be eventful, top ten will fight harder’

Miguel Oliveira expects the battle between riders inside the top ten positions during MotoGP Sprint races to be ‘very eventful’.
Miguel Oliveira, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Portimao 2023
Miguel Oliveira, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Portimao 2023

If Superpole races in WorldSBK was a taster for everyone, then MotoGP Sprint races could be even more chaotic, dramatic and exciting given how close the field appears to be heading into the new season.

Unlike WorldSBK, the final result from the Sprint race won’t have an effect in setting up the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix, however, it is a chance for riders to claim more points every weekend.

And Oliveira, who like the rest of the grid will get his first taste of Sprint racing this weekend in Portimao, expects those further up the grid to show more aggression. 

"I have to wait and see," said Oliveira when asked what will be the biggest challenge of the new Sprint race format. "I have thought about it many times and I have changed my mind many times. 

"Now, I’m of the thinking that whoever is in the top ten will fight harder to get an extra point, but those who are maybe not close to the top ten will not invest too much energy. They may prepare the race even better for Sunday. 

"But it’s too risky to say something now. We have to go for the first Sprint race and see what is really there. I’m sure the first Sprint race of the season will be very eventful because everyone is very excited to get started. 

"To get started with only 12 laps will be interesting. There will be a lot of action. I think it will be challenging mentally because we cannot fail as much. Before we had to do 25/26 laps without fail and now we have to do 36/37 laps in a weekend that must be perfect."

While Portimao would typically present Oliveira with a great chance of securing a big result given his knowledge of the circuit and previous form at his home round, the Portugeuse star is under no illusions that winning or even a podium will be difficult as he continues to learn a new bike.

Miguel Oliveira , Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Miguel Oliveira , Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

With that said, Oliveira has been very strong aboard the RS-GP22 during pre-season testing, as has new teammate Raul Fernandez who is also new to the bike, and the former KTM rider will take every opportunity should it present itself. 

Asked if he’s ready to do something ‘magical’ on his Aprilia debut, Oliveira added: "I think not but I will try my best. I think it would be very unrealistic for me to sit here and say ‘look, I feel great and because the home GP starts in Portugal I’m in a great place to win’. 

"It would be fantastic but it will be very difficult. Nevertheless, I don’t rule out that position, that possibility. 

"Anything can happen, that’s true, but I want to go into the weekend discovering better the bike and prepare the race well. 

"That is my target. If we are in a position where we can challenge, then we will challenge. But if not I will not take it very heavily on me."

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