Miguel Oliveira has taken a surprise victory in the Catalunya MotoGP after withstanding pressure from pre-race favorite and championship leader Fabio Quartararo to claim a third career MotoGP win.
Rounding off an important and lucrative week for the Portuguese rider after a dismal start to the season – his first with KTM in a factory capacity – left him playing catch up, a return to the podium in Mugello is now followed up with an accomplished win in Catalunya.
While Oliveira is clearly making the most of his KTM package – the result of significant updates that debuted in Italy – he wasn’t considered necessarily one of the contenders for victory, with many prematurely handing the trophy to Quartararo after another impressive pole performance on Saturday .
However, Quartararo would endure a frustratingly eventful afternoon where his hopes of victory were undone by the combination of Oliveira’s faultless performance and his leather, which literally came undone. Occurring with three laps to go while close to the rear of the KTM, Quartararo was forced to end the race with his leathers open having been forced to remove his chest protector to give him room to move.
Indeed, it was a tough day at the office for the championship leader, the Frenchman making his afternoon tough from the start when he was mugged through the first turn by an aggressive Jack Miller, which in turn allowed Oliveira to hang it around the outside of Turn 2 to grab second.
When Oliveira hit the front on lap two by punishing Miller’s error in Turn 4, Quartararo’s hasty attempts to follow would instead send him wide at Turn 7, dropping him to sixth.
With Oliveira stretching the frontrunners though, Quartararo was able to pick his way back up the order without being bogged down in time-sapping battles, relieving Joan Mir of second place by lap seven.
However, once there, Quartararo would find much stiffer opposition from Oliveira to leave him staring at the back of the RC16 for much of the remaining race. Indeed, the Frenchman did get close enough to execute a pass for the lead on lap 12, but when Oliveira snatched it back into Turn 1 on lap 14, he was never headed again.
Indeed, Quartararo might have fancied a late shot at relieving Oliveira in the final moments had the problem with his leathers, which he said had malfunctioned on lap one, hadn’t slowed him – in part because needed to remove his rib protector which led to him racing bare chested – or distracted him into running wide at Turn 1 with two laps remaining.
It meant Oliveira could complete a comfortable third win of his career, following on from his last gasp Styrian MotoGP win and his similarly flawless Portuguese MotoGP performance. Coupled with his second place in Mugello, he has leapt from 20th to 10th overall in just two races.
Quartararo’s issues would allow through a charging Johann Zarco into second, the Frenchman making up for a bad start that dropped him from third to tenth initially by fighting back up the order to finish just on the tail of Oliveira.
Quartararo was third on the road, only for his misery to be compounded further when he received a three-second penalty for running wide at Turn 1 towards the end. He then received another three-second penalty for his leathers being unfastened, dropping him down to sixth.
As such, Miller was promoted ahead of him, while Zarco has now closed the gap to the front to 14 points.
Joan Mir ran as high as second before slipping back to fifth – eventually fourth – in what continues to be a modest defense of his title on the Suzuki, while Maverick Vinales and Pecco Bagnaia had unmemorable races in fifth and seventh either side of the penalized Quartararo .
Brad Binder did his bit on a brilliant day for KTM in eighth, ahead of Franco Morbidelli on another disappointing weekend that promised much more.
Enea Bastianini rounded out the top ten with Alex Marquez, Luca Marini, Takaaki Nakagami, Jorge Martin and Lorenzo Savadori the last remaining scorers and finishers.
In a race of multiple incidents, Marc Marquez suffered a third DNF in a row with a fall at Turn 10 having looked more like his old self as he diced in the lead pack from sixth. His exit was preceded by Pol Espargaro crashing out at Turn 9 on an awful day for Repsol Honda, while his brother Aleix couldn’t convert a strong start that had him up to third when he also crashed out at their home circuit.
Other fallers included both Tech 3 KTM riders Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona, plus Valentino Rossi, who it appears fell with the ‘hole shot’ device – which pushed the rear suspension down – locked on.
2021 Catalunya MotoGP RACE Results | Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
|2021 Catalunya MotoGP RACE Results | Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya | Round 7 / 19|
|position||riders||nat.||MotoGP team||MotoGP bike||timing|
|1||Miguel Oliveira||POR||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||24 laps|
|2||Johann Zarco||FRA||Pramac Racing||Ducati GP21||+0.175|
|3||Jack Miller||OUT OF||Ducati Lenovo team||Ducati GP21||+1,990|
|4||Joan Mir||ESP||Team Suzuki Ecstar||Suzuki GSX RR||+5,325|
|5||Maverick Vinales||ESP||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha YZF-M1||+6,281|
|6||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha YZF-M1||+7,815 **|
|7||Francesco Bagnaia||IT||Ducati Lenovo team||Ducati GP21||+8,175|
|8th||Brad Binder||RSA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||+8,378|
|9||Franco Morbidelli||IT||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha YZF-M1||+15,652|
|10||Enea Bastianini||IT||Avintia Esponsorama||Ducati GP19||+19,297|
|11||Alex Marquez||ESP||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||+21,650|
|12||Luca Marini||IT||Sky VR46 Esponsorama||Ducati GP19||+22,533|
|13||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||LCR Honda Idemitsu||Honda RC213V||+27,833|
|14||Jorge Martin||ESP||Pramac Racing||Ducati GP21||+29.075|
|15||Lorenzo Savadori||IT||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia RS GP||+40.291|
|DNF||Iker Lecuona||ESP||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||crash|
|DNF||Valentino Rossi||IT||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha YZF-M1||crash|
|DNF||Alex Espargaro||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia RS GP||crash|
|DNF||Marc Marquez||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||crash|
|DNF||Danilo Petrucci||IT||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||crash|
|DNF||Pol Espargaro||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||crash|
|–||Alex Rins||ESP||Team Suzuki Ecstar||Suzuki GSX RR||Withdrawn|
** Receives two separate three-second penalties – Track Violations / Open leathers in racing conditions