KTM Factory Racing rider Miguel Oliveira yesterday held his nerve in rainy conditions to win the Thailand Grand Prix in Buriram, as Francesco Bagnaia made up significant ground on world championship leader Fabio Quartararo who finished 17th.
Oliveira crossed the line 0.730 seconds ahead of Ducati Team duo Jack Miller and Bagnaia at the Chang International Circuit, in a race delayed by almost an hour because of heavy rain, creating treacherous conditions.
“It was a long race, but I can’t complain. Every time we get a chance to race on the wet, I’m always super fast,” said Oliveira, who also showcased his wet-weather skills this season in his victory at the Indonesian Grand Prix.
“When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia, but I tried to keep my feet on the ground and not make mistakes. I’m happy with this end of season win,” he said.
Bagnaia was made to work for his third-placed finish by Prima Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco, but held on to reduce Frenchman Quartararo’s lead in the standings from 18 points to two.
“I’m very happy, it’s like a win for me,” Bagnaia said. “I want to thank Jack [Miller]. He gave me a motivational chat before the race, and we spoke a bit.”
For Miller it was a second podium finish in a row, after his victory last weekend in Japan. He is fifth in the championship standings.
“I was pushing hard there, I didn’t give up on victory,” Miller said. “It’s not an easy task in these conditions.”
Miller is due to get married next weekend, ahead of his home grand prix in Australia, and said he would have been in “trouble” if the race had been postponed.
Quartararo had a disastrous start to the race, dropping down from fourth on the grid to 17th place on the first lap before ending up outside the points.
Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro also regained ground in the overall standings as he reduced the gap between him and Quartararo to 20 points, despite finishing 11th after being given a long-lap penalty for a collision with Brad Binder.
Additional reporting by AFP
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