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Oliveira likely handed first penalty of 2024 MotoGP season

RNF Aprilia’s Miguel Oliveira has been penalised for causing a collision in the Qatar Grand Prix sprint, which will now likely stand as the first penalty of MotoGP 2024.

Miguel Oliveira, RNF MotoGP Racing

Miguel Oliveira, RNF MotoGP Racing

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The Portuguese rider ran into the back on fellow Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro at Turn 6 on the opening lap of the sprint in Qatar on Saturday.

Oliveira suffered a broken right scapula in his shoulder in the crash and has been ruled out of this evening’s Qatar GP.

Espargaro fractured his leg in the incident, but has been cleared to race on Sunday. He will start 16th after a grid penalty for slapping Franco Morbidelli in practice.

The FIM stewards panel deemed he was at fault for the incident and has given him a long lap penalty.

The wording of the penalty states it will be served at the next grand prix in which he is fit enough to compete in.

But Oliveira has all but ruled himself out of racing at the Valencia GP next week, meaning the next race he will be fit enough to compete in will be the season-opening round of the 2024 campaign in Qatar.

Speaking earlier on Sunday prior to the penalty notification, Oliveira said: “It was a small racing incident.

“Unfortunately, I crashed with a team-mate, which really disappoints me. I got a really good start and I figured I’d just keep winning positions.

Miguel Oliveira, RNF MotoGP Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Miguel Oliveira, RNF MotoGP Racing

“But in Turn 6, I braked a little too late, Aleix braked – I don’t want to say too early - a little bit hard. So, I was going to hit him.

“I just put the bike straight to avoid him, but I couldn’t miss his rear wheel and unfortunately we crashed together.

“So, disappointed for that, but in the end it was a small race incident, a small misjudgement. We both ended up on the ground, I got hurt which was not ideal – a fractured scapula.

“Don’t really know yet the extent of the injury. So, once I get back home we’ll get a better look into it and see what's ahead of me in recovery.

“Unfortunately, looks like yeah [I will miss the Valencia test]. I will miss the race, miss the test and that’s it. That was my final laps, this fantastic season [has] come to an end.”

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Oliveira doesn’t think he will need surgery on the injury, which is similar to the one Enea Bastianini – who was caught up in that sprint crash – suffered in Portugal and missed five rounds with.

Oliveira’s first season on the RNF Aprilia has been a difficult one, with the Portuguese finishing just eight grands prix.

He was taken out of the first in Portugal in a collision with Marc Marquez, which left him with tendon damage and on the sidelines for Argentina.

A dislocated shoulder suffered in a collision at the Spanish GP took him out of that race and left him sidelines for the French GP also.

Having won twice in 2022 with KTM, Oliveira ends 2023 with a best result of fourth at the British GP.

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