Aprilia radically overhauled its V4-powered contender over the winter, with a renewed focus on aerodynamics allowing riders to work Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales to score sprint podiums in Qatar and Portugal respectively and emerge as contenders for victory.

But Trackhouse rider Oliveira, who also has the latest-spec RS-GP at his disposal, has been unable to replicate the kind of results Espargaro and Vinales have achieved so far, leaving him 14th in the standings after the opening two rounds.

Having mustered a single point in the Qatar season-opener, the Portuguese rider could only finish ninth in his home round at the Algarve International Circuit, where Vinales was on course for second until a late gearbox issue.

Amid the stark contrast in his performance to that of his factory team stablemates, the 29-year-old explained that he has been unable to make many strides on a bike that has simply not been working the way he would like it to.

“Small steps. Baby, baby, baby steps. Really baby steps,” he said of a lack of progress in 2024. “I would have liked something bigger.

“The feeling I have is good. I’m fully adapted to the premier riding style and everything but the bike is just not working, not working as it should do, and it’s quite frustrating.

Miguel Oliveira, Trackhouse Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“But it’s what we have. Need to keep working and try to find a way.”

Oliveira is one of the best-known athletes in Portugal, a country otherwise known for its love for football, and once again enjoyed a strong welcome from fans at the Algarve circuit last weekend as he lined up 15th on the grid.

Born in Almada, about 200km north of Portimao, Oliveira feels the pressure that comes from racing in front of the home crowd is arguably higher than the stress of fighting for the championship.

“I only saw this [level of support] in the years I was in the championship with one rider and he’s retired already. You know who it is [Valentino Rossi],” he said.

“It’s quite amazing to have not the track [but] the whole country with you. It’s quite amazing. So I can’t describe the feeling.

“A little bit of pressure because everyone is shouting your name. But it’s good because after this not even playing for the world championship will be more pressure than this, unless it’s [the final is] here.

“In that case things are different. But it was cool, really cool.”

Read Also: