Miguel Oliveira claimed KTM’s first win of 2021 by seeing off Johann Zarco in an exciting finish to MotoGP’s Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Championship leader Fabio Quartararo preserved his advantage out front, but was fourth in the end, demoted by a late penalty and riding the final laps with his leathers unzipped. He now leads Zarco by 17 points.
Yamaha’s new and improved holeshot device again enabled Quartararo to get a good launch off the line, but Ducati rider Jack Miller drew alongside the Frenchman and snuck through down the inside, before Oliveira made the most of the opportunity to get around Quartararo at Turn 2.
Miller then ran wide at the Turn 4 right-hander on the second lap, allowing Oliveira through into the lead, but managing to just fight off Quartararo – and a failed overtaking attempt into the Turn 7-8 complex dropped the Yamaha man behind a fast-starting Joan Mir (Suzuki) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia).
He then fell behind Zarco on the straight too, but gathered himself to repass his compatriot in no time, before then taking care of Espargaro for fourth and moving back up into podium places when Miller ran wide.
By then Oliveira’s lead was up to around a second, and Quartararo dispatched Mir through the long Turn 3 with relative ease at the start of the second lap, setting off after the race-leading KTM.
As the 24-lap race reached its halfway point, Oliveira’s lead was already history, and Quartararo soon forced his way past down the inside of the hairpin-esque Turn 5 left-hander.
Yet Oliveira stayed with him through the next two laps, eventually picking up his slipstream and easing back past the Yamaha at the start of the 14th lap.
— Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (@Circuitcat_eng) June 6, 2021
Oliveira very quickly eked out a four-tenths gap over Quartararo, and finally broke the Yamaha man’s resistance with three-and-a-half laps left to run.
Quartararo then faded fast and immediately dropped into the clutches of Zarco – who, having got past Miller earlier, had little trouble going through on Quartararo at Turn 1.
More remarkably, Quartararo then rode the final laps with the front of his leathers unzipped as he battled Miller for third, eventually hanging on but getting a three-second penalty for a shortcut at the first corner and being demoted to fourth.
Bizarre scenes with @FabioQ20! 👀
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) June 6, 2021
The 0.175s that split Miller and Quartararo at the chequered flag was the same gap that separated Oliveira and Zarco in the end, the Pramac man having mounted a late charge but coming up just short in the end of a maiden victory for himself and the Italian team.
Reigning champion Mir looked to have run out of grip in the final laps but somehow held on against the advances of Maverick Vinales, securing fifth place.
Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia defeated Oliveira’s team-mate Brad Binder – fresh off signing a deal through 2024 – to claim seventh, while Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli and Avintia Ducati’s Enea Bastianini completed the top 10.
It was a deeply miserable race for Honda, which was led by LCR Honda’s Alex Marquez in 11th place.
The other LCR rider, Takaaki Nakagami, was compromised by having to serve a long-lap penalty for a shortcut and then another long-lap penalty for failing to serve the first one in time.
Third consecutive DNF for @marcmarquez93! 😱
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) June 6, 2021
Meanwhile, the two factory riders crashed out, Pol going down from 11th place at Turn 5 and Marc Marquez following suit at the new Turn 10 a few laps later while chasing after Pol’s sixth-placed brother Aleix – who then himself crashed his Aprilia at the same corner later on.
There were also crashes for the Tech3 duo of Iker Lecuona and Danilo Petrucci, and for Valentino Rossi, who was 13th when he tumbled at Turn 10.
|Pos||Name||Team||Bike||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||24||21||40m21.749s||1m40.204s||0||25|
|2||Johann Zarco||Pramac Racing||Ducati||24||0||+0.175s||1m39.939s||0||20|
|3||Jack Miller||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||24||1||+1.99s||1m40.306s||0||16|
|4||Fabio Quartararo||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||24||2||+4.815s||1m40.109s||0||13|
|5||Joan Mir||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||24||0||+5.325s||1m40.228s||0||11|
|6||Maverick Viñales||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||24||0||+6.281s||1m40.247s||0||10|
|7||Francesco Bagnaia||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati||24||0||+8.175s||1m40.502s||0||9|
|8||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||24||0||+8.378s||1m40.406s||0||8|
|9||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||24||0||+15.652s||1m40.702s||0||7|
|10||Enea Bastianini||Avintia Esponsorama Racing||Ducati||24||0||+19.297s||1m40.831s||0||6|
|11||Alex Marquez||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda||24||0||+21.65s||1m40.896s||0||5|
|12||Luca Marini||SKY VR46 Avintia Team||Ducati||24||0||+22.533s||1m31.033s||0||4|
|13||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||24||0||+27.833s||1m40.637s||0||3|
|14||Jorge Martin||Pramac Racing||Ducati||24||0||+29.075s||1m40.926s||0||2|
|15||Lorenzo Savadori||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||24||0||+40.291s||1m41.016s||0||1|
|Iker Lecuona||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||16||0||DNF||1m40.635s||0||0|
|Valentino Rossi||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||15||0||DNF||1m40.841s||0||0|
|Aleix Espargaró||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||10||0||DNF||1m40.234s||0||0|
|Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||7||0||DNF||1m40.379s||0||0|
|Danilo Petrucci||Tech3 KTM Factory Racing||KTM||5||0||DNF||1m41.126s||0||0|
|Pol Espargaró||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||4||0||DNF||1m40.66s||0||0|