Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira claimed a thrilling MotoGP victory as he held off fast charging Frenchman Johann Zarco to win the Catalunya GP in Barcelona at the weekend, the seventh round in the world series.
Meanwhile, championship leader Fabio Quartararo, also from France, lost his third place to Australian Jack Miller after receiving a three-second penalty for a “wardrobe malfunction”, that penalty later doubled to six seconds.
Oliveira took his and KTM’s first MotoGP win of the 2021 season in scintillating style, as he came out on top in his battle with pre-race favourite Quartararo, before holding off Zarco.
It was Miller who made the perfect start as he took the lead from Quartararo into turn one. But both riders ran a touch wide which allowed the fast starting Oliveira into second behind Miller.
However, the best start came from the reigning world champion Joan Mir as he finished lap one in fourth after starting tenth.
Miller led for a couple of laps before Oliveira took the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish until lap 11.
The KTM man got the gap out to over a second on Miller, before Mir and Quartararo made their way through on the Australian.
Quartararo then made light work of Mir on lap six and pulled in the gap to under half a second after nine laps.
Quartararo finally took the lead from Oliveira with 12 laps remaining, while Miller and Zarco closed back up on the front three.
But the lead didn’t last long for championship leader as Oliveira retook the lead with a great move into turn one.
Oliveira got alongside Quartararo heading into the braking zone and parked his RC16 on the inside of the 22 year-old.
Mir began to struggle the most out of anyone in the front group as Maverick Vinales got ahead of the current world champion.
But out front, Oliveira surprisingly started to pull away from Quartararo while the Ducati pair of Zarco and Miller reeled the Yamaha rider.
Zarco then moved past Quartararo with three laps remaining going into turn one, as Quartararo had a big moment on the front end.
That started another issue for the 22-year-old as his leathers came undone and completed the final laps in that fashion.
Miller was soon onto the back of Quartararo and tried to take third place at the beginning of the penultimate lap. However, Quartararo was able to perform the switch back and finish in what should have been third.
But Quartararo was given a three-second penalty on the final lap which elevated Miller into third. Quartararo was far enough ahead of fifth place to remain in fourth.
Mir regained fifth from Maverick Vinales late on while Francesco Bagnaia came out on top in his battle with South African Brad Binder who finished eighth.
Franco Morbidelli finished ninth while rookie Enea Bastianini claimed tenth.
There was a slew of crashes as former MotoGP world champions Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, as well as Aleix Espargaro, all fell at turn ten, while Pol Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona also crashed.
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2021 Catalunya MotoGP Race Results
|6||Fabio QUARTARARO (+6sec penalty included)||Yamaha||+7.815|
|DNF||Iker LECUONA||KTM||8 Laps|
|DNF||Valentino ROSSI||Yamaha||9 Laps|
|DNF||Aleix ESPARGARO||Aprilia||14 Laps|
|DNF||Marc MARQUEZ||Honda||17 Laps|
|DNF||Danilo PETRUCCI||KTM||19 Laps|
|DNF||Pol ESPARGARO||Honda||20 Laps|
2021 MotoGP Standings