Austrian manufacturer insists it offered Portuguese rider the option.
Red Bull KTM Tech3 newcomer Miguel Oliveira confessed he was stunned by the Austrian brand’s decision to elevate Brad Binder straight into the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team on Thursday evening in Australia.
Oliveira, 24, will remain in the satellite team aboard a factory specification RC16, while Binder – initially signed to Tech3 for his MotoGP graduation – has been promoted to partner Pol Espargaro prior to turning a wheel in the premier class.
“KTM approached me at Misano and, they weren’t really asking me anything or giving me the option, they just said that there was this seat that was available in the factory team and they were thinking about putting Mika [Kallio] there,” explained Oliveira.
“I said, well if it’s Mika, I think it’s completely fine for me because I had built a good relationship with the Tech3 team and it doesn’t make sense to make the switch. In any case, you know we were supposed to have a factory bike this year that didn’t happen until recently and who knows about next year…
“This is the thing I want to look at, the KTM relationship in the long term and having chosen a rookie who is the same age as me makes me feel a bit like I’m not worthy enough to be there. But it’s their decision and I respect it – it doesn’t change any single thing on my mind of being here and doing the maximum.”
The story from Oliveira came as a surprise of sorts to KTM management at Phillip Island, which is claiming the Portuguese rider in fact opted to stay at Tech3 next season when questioned if he would be willing to join Espargaro in the factory team next year.