13 October 2013 - 12:30
Mahindra Racing registers first podium at Sepang
Mahindra Racing's been making steady inroads ever since it made its Moto3 debut earlier this year, and this has been a long time coming - Miguel Oliveira, atop his MGP3O, fought back after a poor start to finish third, handing Mahindra Racing its first-ever podium finish in the process. This makes Mahindra the first and only Indian team to have ever finished on the Moto3 podium.
In what was a refreshing change, Oliveira's third-place finish meant that for the first time this year, a non-KTM bike figured in the top three. It didn't look like Oliveira's day at the beginning, though.
Oliveira lost places early on, and was 14th by the time he completed his first lap. He made his way back up, though, and after setting a new lap record, took third and stayed there till the end. The finish was quite close - the Mahindra crossed the chequered flag less than half a second behind Luis Salom's race-winning KTM. All this, from a 250cc bike that was designed and created in record time, and is still under development.
Oliveira's team-mate Efren Vazquez didn't have a day as good as that, and retired after he slipped off on a slow corner. Even then, today was a crucial day for the team, as the third place brought Oliveira withing spitting distance of the top five riders in the championship standings, and the team itself is now just five points away from occupying second place on the constructors' table.
Mahindra Racing says its next goal is winning races, and with such deeply impressive progress over the span of a few months, who would doubt the team's capabilities?