Phillip Island, Australia, October 20, 2013: Mahindra rider Efrén Vázquez showed true racing grit in Australia, fighting back into a big leading group in the closing stages to regain seventh place, giving the only Indian grand prix machine another top ten finish in its first development season.
The 27-year-old Spaniard from Bilbao was the fastest man on the track in the closing laps, as his choice of a harder rear tyre began at last to pay dividends. He closed a gap that had been more than four seconds to the leader to rejoin a fearsome leading group, and was starting to gain places. The chequered flag came one lap too early for him to do better than seventh. He was only 1.1 seconds behind the race winner.
Vazquez had qualified third, for his first front-row start of the season, and the Mahindra MGP3O’s fifth.
The race was a massive disappointment for team-mate Miguel Oliveira (18, from Portugal). Fresh from scoring the white-and-red Mahindra’s maiden top-three podium in Malaysia, Oliveira was making up places after a third-row start when he was jostled at the hairpin halfway round the first lap.
He ran out of track room, hit another bike, and crashed spectacularly, the Mahindra looping through the air. The bike was not badly damaged, and Miguel remounted at the back to recover to an eventual 26th.
The first race of the day, the Moto3™ was the only grand prix to run to full distance, with both Moto2 and MotoGP cut in length because of concerns about high tyre wear on the resurfaced 4.448-km Phillip Island circuit. It started in dry conditions, and while spots of rain brought out the warning flags, the full 23 laps were completed on a dry surface.
The race was won by Spaniard Alex Rins, by inches from Maverick Vinales, with Luis Salom completing an all-Spanish podium. The top seven crossed the line within 1.1 seconds.
The Mahindra MGP3O, designed and built in record time for a competitive debut at the first race of the year, has made history for India throughout its maiden season, the latest milestone being the historic first rostrum in Malaysia last Sunday. After today’s race, Mahindra is just six points away from gaining second place in the Constructors Championship.
The next race, in the third of three ‘flyaways’ in a row, is at Motegi in Japan next Sunday. Two weeks later, the 17-round Moto3 season concludes at Valencia in Spain.
EFRÉN VÁZQUEZ – 7th Position
It was a very difficult first lap. In the fourth corner another rider came in hard and hit me, then some other riders including Miguel crashed next to me, and I lost some positions. The gap to the front was one or two seconds. I tried to push and get my rhythm and stayed in the group, then I made some mistakes fighting with Antonelli, and lost touch. This track is really difficult without a slipstream and I was losing a few tenths every lap. Then I saw the lead group was fighting and losing time, and I pushed even harder to catch up. I got one place back, but there was no time to do more.
MIGUEL OLIVEIRA – 26th Position
I was trying to gain positions braking up the inside at the hairpin on the first lap, but some guy behind me was pushing my bike forward. I don’t know if I locked the brake or exactly what happened, but I couldn’t avoid crashing. The bike was okay, so I went again, just tried to do my lap times and finish the race. I knew I couldn’t catch the leaders, but I tried anyway.
MUFADDAL CHOONIA – CEO, Mahindra Racing
Racing can be so cruel At the last race Miguel finished on the podium, a week later he was unlucky to crash on the first lap. However Efrénshowed his strength at this race, and finished well to gain valuable points. Mahindra is still in the hunt for second overall in the Constructors Championship.Published 20 Oct 2013, 18:18 IST