Miguel Oliveira took his and KTM’s first win of the season, defending from a late charge by Johann Zarco, while pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo dropped to P4 in a chaotic finish to the race.
KTM’s Miguel Oliveira secured his career’s third win and the first victory of the year for KTM in an action-packed Catalan Grand Prix. The rider led the race from the initial stages but not before Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, Ducati’s Jack Miller and Pramac’s Johann Zarco built pressure throughout the race at different stages. Joining Oliveira on the podium are Miller and Zarco, while pole-sitter Quartararo faded was hit with a 3-second time penalty demoting him to P4.
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The Catalan GP saw Quartararo joined by Miller and Zarco on the front row, while Oliveira was placed fourth on the grid. The race opened to Miller taking the lead from Quartararo at Turn 1 only to be passed by Oliveira on the following corners. The factory Yamaha rider dropped down to P5 after a strong start gave defending champion Joan Mir of Suzuki a fighting chance, pushing him from P10 to fourth. Meanwhile, Honda’s Marc Marquez and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro moved up to the top 10 in the early stages of the race.
By Lap 5, Oliveira held a second’s advantage over Miller but the Australian dropped down the order with Mir and Quartararo passing him a lap later. Fabio managed to pass Mir on Lap 7 to claim P2 but Oliveira had extended his lead by 1.2s. Nevertheless, Quartararo used the next couple of laps to close in on the race leader but Oliveira defended his position well, while Mir started fading out from the top three.
Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez crashed out on Lap 8 at Turn 10, making it his third consecutive DNF this season, while Aleix Espargaro was the next casualty on Lap 11. The race saw a long string of crashes, most of which occurred at Turn 10.
Bizarre scenes with @FabioQ20!
— MotoGP (@MotoGP) June 6, 2021
As the race reached its closing stages, the riders began to see tyre wear affecting their pace. However, Oliveira remained consistent with a hard front tyre that allowed his KTM to maintain a gap by over eight-tenths of a second. Quartararo though saw his rear tyre deplete faster, which allowed Zarco to pass the rider for P2, after the Frenchman ran wide on Turn 1. To add to Quartararo’s battles, the rider’s leathers burst open and he lost his chest protector in a completely bizarre scenario. That said, the Yamaha rider continued to run for third.
At the front, Zarco was now mounting pressure on Oliveira with the final lap to go and the Pramac rider seemed destined to secure his first win. But the KTM did no wrong and managed to keep the Pramac rider at bay crossing the chequered flag with a gap of just 0.175s. This is Oliveira’s first win of 2021 and the first ever with the factory team. Zarco secured P2 while Quartararo received a 3-second post-race penalty for taking a shortcut on Lap 22. This promoted Miller to third.
Joan Mir finished fifth behind Quartararo, while Maverick Vinales secured P6 ahead of Francesco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati. KTM’s Brad Binder claimed P8 followed by Franco Morbidelli of SRT Yamaha taking P9. Avintia’s rookie rider Enea Bastianini claimed P10.
LCR’s Alex Marquez was 11th with Avintia rookie Luca Marini claiming P12, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami. Pramac rider Jorge Martin crashes on the sighting lap but managed to finish 14th in the race, with the final point picked up by Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori. The final finisher was Iker Lecuona of Tech 3 KTM.
The Catalan GP had a fair share of DNFs including Valentino Rossi of SRT, and Danilo Petrucci of Tech 3. Both factory Hondas were also out of contention with Marquez and Pol Espargaro crashing out.