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15 days ago
By motogp.com

Oliveira and KTM back on top

The Portuguese rider secured his and KTM’s first win of the season at the Italian GP

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) returned to the top step of the podium at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley after a fantastic battle with home rider Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40).

The Portuguese rider won the final three races of the 2017 season, but the start to 2018 has been slightly more difficult than expected, with KTM failing to win in the opening five rounds. However, Oliveira crossed the line 0.184 ahead of fellow Championship rival Baldassarri to secure the Austrian factory’s first victory of 2018.

“I knew that after the qualifying I needed to get a good start, and I managed to start good and I did a good first lap which immediately put me in the top three I think,” explained the number 44, who started from P11 on the grid. “From then on, I tried to lead the race, Pasini at some stage was a little bit stronger but he was pushing it too much, and finally when he crashed I saw my opportunity to win the race. I pushed every lap, I knew that Baldassarri was coming really strong and I tried to defend myself as much as I can and finally I fight with him until that last lap. It was pretty fun I have to say and pretty spectacular, I’m so happy to take this win after a tough start to the season. We have been really consistent but not really fighting for wins and today we could do that so that makes me really happy.”

Consistency is exactly what has seen Oliveira become Francesco Bagnaia’s (SKY Racing Team VR46) closest Championship challenger, with the gap now down to just 13 points. Mugello's win was the KTM rider's fourth podium of the season, but he isn’t getting carried away thinking about the title just yet, saying, “It’s quite early to speak about that, but for sure we want to keep the consistency.”

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Italian GP: Moto2™ Full Race

Oliveira stood on the podium at the Catalan GP last season, finishing third. Can the 23-year-old fight for victory again in Barcelona?

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