Mahindra Racing rider Miguel Oliveira took a hard-fought fifth place at the Aragon Grand Prix Moto3 race, fighting to the end with championship leader Luis Salom, and crossing the line less than a tenth of a second adrift after they had changed places four times in a thrilling final lap here.
Team-mate Efren Vazquez was 10th after battling for almost full distance in a big group, also swapping back and forth as they fought for inches on the fast and scenic 5.078-km Motorland Aragon circuit, Sunday.
A third Mahindra rider, Brad Binder (South Africa) astride a customer bike now in its second race with the Ambrogio team, finished 12th. It is the first time three of the new-this-year Mahindra MGP3O machines have finished in the championship points.
The race in the Spanish hinterland was the 13th of 17 rounds, and saw both factory riders and the constructor gain ground in the title standings. Oliveira gained two points on his nearest rival in fifth place; Vazquez moved from 11th to ninth; while Mahindra consolidated third in the Constructors championship, gaining one more point on Kalex-KTM in second.
Vazquez had qualified on the second row of the grid and Oliveira on the third, and both started well. The 18-year old Portugese Oliveira moved from seventh on lap one to fifth on lap three of the 20-lap race. By the end, he and companion Luis Salom had gained one more place, and were battling for fourth to the flag.
Vazquez finished lap one ninth, and spent almost the whole race fighting hard in a big gang of eight riders, changing places to the finish, at which point he was 10th.
Mahindra is the only Indian manufacturer in international motorcycle racing, and the MGP3O is up against established Japanese and European manufacturers in the Moto3 class, where single-cylinder 250cc four-strokes operate within strict technical rules.
The next race is the Malaysian Grand Prix in two weeks, the first of three 'flyaway' rounds that then take the Grand Prix circus to Australia and Japan before the final round at Valencia in Spain.
Oliveira said: "It was a big battle at the end with Luis Salom. I passed him in turn one, he passed me again up the hill, and I passed him straight back. He then challenged me on the main straight, and I finished just behind him.
"I did what I could - for any chance to better, I would like at least not to be disturbed at the start by other riders, but it is the price you pay when you come from behind on the grid. I was on the third row today. We have to look for better qualifying positions. That will be the key for us - the races where we did best are always when we started from the first or second row."
Vazquez said: "Big groups are always interesting in this category, and I was in a big group. More than the race, I'm happy with my last laps. For the last five laps I switched off the traction control and my rhythm was much better.
"I did four consecutive good lap times. I think this is important. Now I see I can go really fast without traction control, so I want to continue in this direction for the next races. Sometimes the riders can do more than the electronics."