Miguel Oliveira wins three-way battle in last corner for first MotoGP victory

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Miguel Oliveira earned his first victory in premier series of MotoGP in dramatic fashion Sunday, passing the top two riders on the final corner of the Grand Prix of Styria.

The Portuguese rider for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team snatched the lead after a duel between Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro, becoming the first MotoGP premier class winner from his country. Miller finished second ahead of Espargaro.

“Happy and proud; there is for sure many reasons to be happy about this day,” Oliveira said in the postrace news conference. “It was a win in the home of KTM and Red Bull, so this is extra special. First one for me. Throughout the whole weekend, we (did) a good job.

“Just really happy. My feet are on the ground, but my head is for sure floating around a little bit. Feel full of happiness for not only me but my family, Portuguese fans. Everyone.”

Oliveira became the third first-time winner of a season that has been left wide open by the injury to defending series champion Marc Marquez in the season opener.

MotoGP runner-up Jack Miller (right) and winner Miguel Oliveira share a moment on the podium after the Grand Prix of Styria (Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images).

Points leader Fabio Quartararo, who won the first two races of the season, and rookie Brad Binder also became first-time winners this year.

“I don’t know if there is any specific reason,” Oliveira said about the trend. “Just my opinion, once Marquez was out, I think all of a sudden, everyone started to feel like all of a sudden they could win races and championships. I think this feeling is still floating around a little bit.

“This is why there’s not a clear favorite for the championship fight. But I think it’s also still quite early to define that. Hopefully in the next few races, we see who is more consistently on the podium and making more points, because at the end, that’s what is going to make the difference.”

Through five races, Quartararo holds a three-point lead (70-67) in the championship standings over Andrea Dovizioso, who won last week’s race in Austria.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.