After the two Losail rounds, KTM set itself the goal of forgetting all about that tough track and starting over in Europe with the 2021 RC16, scoring a solid result at Portimao to make up for a complicated season start (despite Binder having been the best of the KTM group in the second Losail race).
Portimao served as something of a turning point. The Austrian manufacturer needed a different, more technical track to highlight the characteristics of the RC16 and the Portuguese rollercoaster fit the bill perfectly. But with Oliveira having sunk (in the race) and the Tech3 out of range, the best of the bunch was number 33 rider Brad Binder.
Binder top, Oliveira flop, Tech3 nowhere in sight
The Portuguese rollercoaster smiled on Brad Binder who, having made a great getaway from fifteenth on the grid, remained inside the top ten for the duration of the race before crossing the line in final fifth place, helped also by Rins and Zarco’s crashes.
Local hero Miguel Oliveira was less fortunate and, having set out with great memories of last year’s race, one he dominated from pole to the chequered flag, he was left with nothing this time around, crossing the line 16th after having crashed and been lapped.
The Tech3 bikes of Petrucci and Lecuona finished in 13th and 15 position, the Aprilia of Lorenzo Savadori crossing the line between them, 29 seconds from the Italian and 50 from the Spaniard. Positions that an historic team like Tech3 does not deserve, if we consider last year's two wins and the fact it placed seventh overall among the teams.
Analysis of the first races
The 2021 season has only just begun, but after three races, two of which at Losail, we can already draw some conclusions about the KTM group (Factory + Tech3) before it heads into the second European round at Jerez.
Overall, across the three races, the best of the KTM group has been Binder. Although Oliveira finished ahead of him in Losail 1, the South African finished top ten (8th) in the next race, at a track that has never suited the RC16.
But the masterpiece came at Portimao, when Binder quite clearly stole Oliveira’s thunder. Finishing P5, the South African is the best KTM in the general standings, lying eighth with 21 points, compared to his team-mate’s 4 points and Petrucci and Lecuona’s 4 points.
And if we consider Tech3’s performance to date, drawing conclusions is unfortunately all too easy. Both Petrucci and Lecuona have been relegated to the lower ranks, both in practice and the races, often placing firmly at the bottom. And while Petrucci’s season start is complicated by the fact he’s moved from Ducati to KTM, Lecuona appears to be similarly in difficulty, despite having run a fairly good 2020 season to score 27 points over 11 races.
Translated by Heather Watson