Mumbai: India`s only motorcycle Grand Prix team resumes battle in France this weekend with high hopes of strong results after a top-10 start for the all-new Mahindra Grand Prix machine.
On track barely six months after the project was initiated, the 250cc Moto3 Mahindra MGP3O has been fast, reliable and successful from the debut in Qatar with a best-ever double top-10 finish at its first attempt.
Seventh-placed Miguel Oliveira moved up to fifth at the next round and the Portuguese teenager was fighting for fourth in Round 3 at Jerez when another rider tipped him off. Teammate Efrén Vázquez (26, from Spain) made up for it with eighth, his second top-10 of the year. Oliveira is seventh and Vázquez 10th overall in the championship standings with Mahindra currently third in constructors` points.
Directly after the race at Jerez the team went testing at the Almeria circuit in Spain.
‘The engine test was encouraging. The riders felt a definite improvement, especially at the top end where we are currently suffering a little against the opposition. Now we are currently running durability tests before bringing the new parts to the track,’ said Mahindra Racing`s CEO Mufaddal Choonia.
Round 4, the second European race, is at the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans. With no long straights and a variety of fast and slow corners, the French circuit favours riding skill and excellent cornering and braking - all areas that should also favour the new Mahindra.
Last year Vázquez and Oliveira were on the front row together, qualified second and third but atrocious conditions took their toll; Vázquez went out on the warm-up lap, and Oliveira was in a substantial lead at two-thirds distance when he slipped off.
‘I`m looking forward to this race. I like the track; last year I was leading until I fell on lap 16 - conditions were crazy wet, with so many accidents. This year, the Mahindra bike is getting better and we understand more about how to find the best setting. It`s more a track for riding than just horsepower and we have the chance of a strong result,’ said Oliveira.
Teammate Vazquez said: ‘I like Le Mans but I had bad luck there last year. I almost made pole position but then I missed the race. Wet or dry, I will be giving my 100 percent.’