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MotoGP, Oliveira: "Razali is looking for magic, but I’m cautious. I don't see any weaknesses in the Ducati"

"The Ducatis? The best performers in every respect, if they have weaknesses they have hidden them well. Aerodynamics? an obligatory passage for speed, but it also creates new problems. The Sprint race? The leaders will go for points, the others will want to avoid unnecessary risks"

MotoGP: Oliveira: "Razali is looking for magic, but I’m cautious. I don't see any weaknesses in the Ducati"


On the occasion of the presentation of the new livery of his Aprilia with which he will race this year, Miguel Oliveira clarified his impressions on the team and on the bike so far. After moving to the RNF team this year, he has already had the opportunity to test the capabilities of his Aprilia on his home circuit in the Portimao tests. The same circuit where, very shortly, MotoGP will give the green light to the 2023 season for the first time. It will therefore be a special appointment for the Portuguese rider, not only for the possibility of putting on a show on his own arena, but also to get back into the fray after a change of bike that often poses quite a few difficulties for riders who often find themselves having to change mannerisms and riding styles, adapting them to the new bike. The results of the two test sessions produced excellent results, so much so that Razali defined Portimao as "an opportunity for a magical start to the season", but the Portuguese rider prefers to remain cautious, aware that there is still a lot of work to do to do and that their rivals may not have revealed all their cards yet.

For some years now you have been at the centre of the bike development project at KTM. Now that you've moved to Aprilia in the satellite team, you'll be racing the 2022 bike. Will this reduce the stress you were under so you can focus again on riding, and then return to development again in the future?

"No, Raul and I will carry on developing and testing the new Aprilia components anyway - Miguel explains to us - it's one of the benefits of being able to have two additional opinions as a satellite team for the factory team".

In the team you will work closely with Giovanni Mattarollo and Wilco Zeelenberg. You already had a good relationship with the former, while the latter will be a valid help during the 2023 season.

"I think having a good connection right away is important in a team, but not the only factor to consider. Wilco is certainly an important figure within the team, with a lot of experience behind him as an ex-rider which is important in dealing with us riders. With Giovanni the relationship seems to work, but the real test bench will be the next races, in which these relationships will have to withstand the stress of the competition. The reaction speed of the whole team will be fundamental, and I believe that that will be an opportunity to really get to know each other".

Aprilia is pushing a lot on aerodynamics, what are your opinions on the direction taken in this aspect in MotoGP and what do you think are the advantages compared to the past?

"First of all, when it comes to aerodynamics, it cannot be completely separated from the rest of the package. It works in concert with all the other components, from the chassis to the engine. The Aprilia is certainly very different from the KTM I rode last year. As for the direction taken by MotoGP in this area, I believe that we have now gone beyond the novelty aspect, but aerodynamics has always been present even in the recent past in motorcycle racing. It is true that in recent years MotoGP has made a remarkable leap forward to be able to reach ever greater speeds, making much use of downforce thanks to the wings. In such a competitive world I believe that aerodynamics is an obligatory step. The negative note is that all this translates into a series of additional problems, from tire pressure to the difficulty in being able to brake the bike, obviously without forgetting slipstreaming and its effects. As a rider I cannot give an overall opinion with respect to the past, because for me aerodynamics have always been there."

Looking at the times in the final tests at Portimao, the same circuit where the first race of the championship will be held, it is clear that the Ducatis have an advantage over their rival bikes. Despite being new to the Aprilia, you still placed in the top 10 in both sessions, maintaining the gap from Bagnaia's Ducati at around 6 tenths, and you know the track perfectly. In your opinion, does this really make the difference for Ducati?

"I don't have the answer to this question yet, I haven't had enough time to understand it. The Ducati is undoubtedly a high-performing bike in all respects, both in braking and in acceleration. I think they also have some weaknesses, but up until now, they have been able to hide them very well. As for Aprilia, we certainly have room for improvement, but to have a clearer idea of the situation we will have to wait for the first races. Ducati has clearly produced some excellent packages for its riders, but the tests can be deceptive from certain points of view. To give an example, Alex Marquez is the only rider to have tried the Ducati for the first time. I think this 2023 season will be very different from what people expect, and I think that during the championship, surprises are not completely out of the question. Another factor to consider is that having four Aprilias on the track this season will help a lot to understand the limits of the RSGP-22 in order to be able to work on the future development of these bikes".

Soon the sprint races will officially debut in the new calendar. What will be the biggest challenge and what will these short races be like?

"I've been thinking about them a lot since they were announced, and I've changed my mind about them more often than I'd like to admit. I think the only real way to know what lies ahead in these races is to experience it for yourself. Right now my idea is that the riders who find themselves in the top ten will try to pick up a few more points, while those behind will try to finish the race without taking unnecessary risks. The first race will certainly be very interesting, there is a lot of curiosity among all the riders, but it will be important not to take too many risks".

Speaking to Razali, he believes starting at Portimao, your home circuit, could open the door to a "magical" start to the season for you and your team.

"I want to keep my feet on the ground, obviously I'll give my all this weekend, but we also have to be realistic. Words can say a lot of unrealistic things, which would be nice if they happened. Of course, anything can happen, but my priority right now is that of continuing to refine my feelings on the Aprilia".

Your teammate, Raul, also seems focused on improving his affinity on the bike. So who will carry on Razlan's ambitions?

"As a rider, I will give everything to get excellent results. I know that Razlan has great ambitions for this team, especially after switching to Aprilia, and both Raul and I are riders who want to demonstrate their skills. But before all this happens , there will be work to achieve certain medium-term goals, because it's easy to talk about results and ambitions, but the reality is that we are still exploring the limits of the bike, as my crash last weekend testifies. We are at the start of the season, we need to stay with our feet on the ground and do our best with what we've learned on the bike so far."

Speaking of the bike specifically, did you have to change some of your riding habits to get used to the Aprilia?

"The Aprilia is much more sensitive than the KTM, but it's difficult to explain it when talking about feelings. I had to adapt to the new bike, the rear brake, the acceleration. It's a bike on which you can't be too aggressive, and it's that's why I think I haven't fully explored its limits yet, to understand when and how to push. It's something that will come with time and with experience. I think that adapting to a bike like this coming from another category might be easier than unlearning certain mental mechanisms that you had while riding another bike in the same category".


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