Miguel Oliveira experienced a curious race in the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix. The Portuguese rider seemed to adapt more than well to the rainy conditions that characterized the long race at Motegi, which forced the entire grid to make a bike change in the early stages.
Once the drivers returned to the pits, the RNF Racing driver worked his way into the top five on the fifth of the twelve laps completed at the Japanese circuit. This was before he even managed to pass Marc Marquez and remained ahead of him in fourth until the completion of the tenth lap, when things started to go wrong.
From then on, Oliveira began to suffer from visibility problems from his Aprilia, due to the huge amount of spray on the track, as the rain began to fall forcefully. The Pragal rider then started to lose positions. He gritted his teeth and tried to resist, but in the end he decided to retreat.
However, he had time to rank. On the twelfth lap, Race Direction stopped the race with a red flag. The decision was to count the previous lap, and on that lap Oliveira was one lap behind, as was Maverick Viñales. The decision was to allow them to start from the pitlane, but not Johann Zarco, who was excluded for not respecting the protocol established by the stewards.
At the end of the race, Oliveira explained that he was saved for only half a lap: “Everything went well, with no problems when changing bikes. I started well in the rain and with more water I felt good. Three laps before the retirement I couldn’t to see anything, not even where I had put the tire,” he said.
“I was convincing myself not to retire, but in the end I entered the pits and did so with half a lap to spare. The mechanics put the bike inside the garage, and this would have meant that I would have had to restart from the pitlane”, he continued.
Oliveira added: “I couldn’t see anything, neither on the straight nor in the corners. It was very frustrating. The race didn’t restart. I didn’t complete the 12th lap,” said the number 88, who finished 18th in the final ranking.