Having finished last season with pole position, fastest lap and victory in Portimao, Miguel Oliveira and KTM began the 2021 MotoGP campaign with a mere 13th place finish in Qatar.

Afterwards Oliveira, promoted from Tech3 to the factory team over the winter, made his frustration clear regarding the lack of workable front tyre compounds for the RC16 in the night race conditions.

While Michelin have provided three different front and rear tyre compounds to choose from, all competitors chose to race with the soft front and soft rear.

“We couldn’t finish stronger because of the front tyre," said Oliveira, who was 11.4s from race winner Maverick Vinales. "We lost quite a lot of grip before mid-race distance and that compromised our performance. I kept losing time to save a crash.

"We feel our bike is strong but we cannot compete over the race distance with this compound tyre.

"To be honest it is really disappointing because the allocation here is chosen by elimination and not be choice. It is not our free choice to use a soft tyre, we use it because we cannot use another one.

"The combination between the carcass and the rubber from the Medium is just wrong, and we communicated that from day one of testing here and in fact nobody uses it.

"So we use the Hard when it’s hot [in the daylight sessions] and when we do that we’re competitive.

"As you can understand we feel that, as a tyre manufacturer, we should have different options available [from them], that actually work and after all the years of experience they have.

"It is quite the opposite. We cannot spend time during six months developing a bike to a certain kind of tyre and then just have this tyre removed from the allocation.

"We feel that the result today is not any kind of reflection of a bike issue, let’s say."

Oliveira was the top KTM rider on Sunday, with team-mate Brad Binder one place and 2.5s behind.

"I thought we could be competitive but unfortunately my front tyre gave up on the right hand side," Binder said. "I kept tucking the front and it kept washing. When I looked up at the board it said 9 laps to go and I knew then we were in trouble. It was about trying to survive until the end."

Tech3's Iker Lecuona finished out of the points in 17th after battling arm pump and the Austrian factory's difficult start to the year was completed by a DNF for new signing Danilo Petrucci, who crashed out on the opening lap.

“I don’t have many words. I’m just very sorry. Unfortunately, I touched another rider and crashed really hard at turn two. This is probably the worst thing, that could happen for my first race with the team," Petrucci said. “For this weekend I hope that my shoulder will be ok.”

Red Bull KTM Race Manager Mike Leitner said: “We knew it would be a tough season-start for us here but the beginning of the race was strong and we were right in the middle of the group.

"We suffered in the last third though and lost the lap-times so we have to work on this. It’s not a disaster – we are 11 seconds behind the winner – but this category is very close and we have to find these seconds.

"We have to step up now and help the boys to be faster.”

For Oliveira, the main positive from Sunday night was that, "we had a crowded grandstand, that was good."

Free practice for the second Qatar round starts on Friday afternoon.

 

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