Catalunya MotoGP: Oliveira fends off Zarco to win, Quartararo loses third to penalty

KTM’s Miguel Oliveira fended off Pramac’s Johann Zarco in an enthralling MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix to claim victory as Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo lost third due to a late time penalty.

Catalunya MotoGP: Oliveira fends off Zarco to win, Quartararo loses third to penalty

KTM struggled in the early races of 2021, but a chassis update and new fuel supplier propelled the Austrian marque back to front-running status over the last two grand prix – Oliveira claiming his first win as a factory team KTM rider.

Jack Miller used the power of the Ducati to grab the holeshot off the line ahead of KTM’s Oliveira and Quartararo on the Yamaha.

Behind, reigning champion Joan Mir had worked his way up from 10th to fourth on the Suzuki, while Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro – who both gambled on soft rear tyres – in the mix early on.

Miller made a mistake at the Turn 4 right-hander and let Oliveira into the lead, while Quartararo dropped to fifth behind Mir and Aprilia’s Espargaro when he unsuccessfully made a lunge on Miller at Turn 7.

Quartararo was also demoted by Johann Zarco on the Pramac Ducati on the run into Turn 1 on lap three, but carved underneath him again at Turn 5.

Oliveira extended his advantage over Miller to close to a second by lap five, with the Australian dropping behind both Mir and Quartararo a tour later.

Quartararo dispensed of Mir with a brilliant scythe up the inside of Turn 3 on lap seven, though this allowed Oliveira’s lead to extend to 1.2s.

Jack Miller, Ducati Team leads at the start

Jack Miller, Ducati Team leads at the start

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

However, Quartararo steadily wiped this gap out over the next few laps, eventually finding a way through on the KTM rider at Turn 5 on the 12th tour.

Ahead of the race Quartararo was expected to be able to gap the field if he could get into the lead, but Oliveira ensured the Yamaha rider couldn’t deploy his rhythm by out-dragging him into Turn 1 two laps later.

Crashes for Aleix Espargaro on lap 11 and Marquez on lap 8 thinned out the lead pack somewhat, with the leading duo of Oliveira and Quartararo building a gap of just over a second to the group behind by lap 18.

Mir couldn’t run with the pace of the top two and dropped behind both Zarco and Miller tow tours earlier, with a charging Vinales closing up to the Suzuki rider late on.

As the pace slowed with the leaders hitting tyre wear, the gap between Oliveira and Quartararo and Zarco and Miller behind shrunk to under a second with four tours to go.

Oliveira’s consistent pace on the hard front and rear tyre allowed the KTM rider to open up a gap of over eight tenths by the end of lap 21 to Quartararo – who appeared to be hitting trouble with his medium front as Zarco honed in.

Zarco eased ahead of Quartararo on the main straight to snatch second, with the Frenchman running off at Turn 1 after a moment under braking.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bizarrely, Quartararo’s leathers had burst open and he lost the chest protector in the latter stages – though he continued to battle with Miller for third.

At the front, Oliveira came under immense pressure from Zarco over the final lap, the gap between the pair under four tenths after the first two sectors.

But Oliveira didn’t put a foot wrong across the second half of the lap to keep Zarco at bay by 0.175 seconds to secure his first win of 2021.

Quartararo’s off-track excursion at Turn 1 on lap 22 netted him a three-second time penalty, meaning he dropped to fourth despite taking the chequered flag ahead of Miller in third.

Mir completed the top five ahead of Vinales, while Franceco Bagnaia was a distant seventh on his factory Ducati ahead of the sister KTM of Brad Binder, Petronas SRT’s Franco Morbidelli and Avintia rookie Enea Bastianini.

Alex Marquez was 11th on the LCR Honda, with Luca Marini (Avintia), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR), Pramac’s Jorge Martin – who had to start last after crashing on the sighting lap – and Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori completing the points.

Only 15 riders reached the chequered flag, Tech3’s Iker Lecuona crashing out of ninth late on, joining Valentino Rossi (SRT), Danilo Petrucci (Tech3) and Pol Espargaro on the Honda joining Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro on the sidelines.

Quartararo’s dramas have led to his championship lead being cut to 17 points by Zarco, with Oliveira edging slightly closer in seventh and 64 points adrift.

MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix - results

Cla Rider Bike Gap
1 Portugal Miguel Oliveira KTM  
2 France Johann Zarco Ducati 0.175
3 Australia Jack Miller Ducati 1.990
4 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 4.815
5 Spain Joan Mir Suzuki 5.325
6 Spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 6.281
7 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 8.175
8 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 8.378
9 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 15.652
10 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 19.297
11 Spain Alex Marquez Honda 21.650
12 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 22.533
13 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 27.833
14 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 29.075
15 Italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 40.291
  Spain Iker Lecuona KTM 8 Laps
  Italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 9 Laps
  Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 14 Laps
  Spain Marc Marquez Honda 17 Laps
  Italy Danilo Petrucci KTM 19 Laps
  Spain Pol Espargaro Honda 20 Laps
shares
comments

Related video

Rossi feels “genuine support” from his SRT MotoGP team

Previous article

Rossi feels “genuine support” from his SRT MotoGP team

Next article

Quartararo can’t explain MotoGP suit problem in Catalunya race

Quartararo can’t explain MotoGP suit problem in Catalunya race
Load comments
How Ducati’s Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future Plus

How Ducati’s Aragon MotoGP win harks to its past and its future

Duelling against Marc Marquez at the Aragon Grand Prix, Francesco Bagnaia came out on top to secure a long overdue MotoGP victory. As Marquez likened Bagnaia to a Ducati title contender of old, it appears the Italian rider could finally start to fight for wins on a more regular basis

MotoGP
Sep 13, 2021
Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble Plus

Why Dovizioso is more of a temporary fix than a Yamaha gamble

OPINION: The return of Andrea Dovizioso to the grid at Misano will be an interesting subplot to the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP season. But the circumstances that have led to the former Ducati rider ending his sabbatical point to his signing being one more of convenience than a long-term commitment

MotoGP
Sep 8, 2021
Why the British GP was a triumph for MotoGP Plus

Why the British GP was a triumph for MotoGP

OPINION: The 2021 British Grand Prix was a historic day for MotoGP. At the centre of it was Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia after securing its first podium in the modern MotoGP era. It was something of a full-circle moment that highlighted just how far MotoGP has come in the last decade

MotoGP
Aug 30, 2021
Why Silverstone should be regarded as MotoGP's rightful UK home Plus

Why Silverstone should be regarded as MotoGP's rightful UK home

OPINION: Many of the UK’s MotoGP fans would prefer Donington Park to host the British GP beyond the expiry of Silverstone's current deal. But the circuit's fast, flowing circuit provides the best racing and should be regarded as its best bet for the foreseeable future

MotoGP
Aug 26, 2021
How MotoGP's record smasher is facing his toughest challenge Plus

How MotoGP's record smasher is facing his toughest challenge

The 2020 MotoGP season was an utterly enthralling affair, but few would argue with you if thought it the world championship was a poorer place without its biggest star Marc Marquez. In an exclusive interview, he explains the challenges he's faced in his comeback from injury and what he makes of the current MotoGP landscape

MotoGP
Aug 23, 2021
The other Austria 'shock' with major repercussions in MotoGP Plus

The other Austria 'shock' with major repercussions in MotoGP

The headlines after MotoGP's Austrian GP were naturally dominated by Brad Binder's heroics on slicks in the rain. But although seventh was, on the face of it, a fairly average result in the context of his season, that Fabio Quartararo was in contention for victory before the rain at Yamaha's worst venue should sound alarm bells for his rivals

MotoGP
Aug 17, 2021
Why Aprilia is a good bet for Vinales in MotoGP - but won't fix his big problem Plus

Why Aprilia is a good bet for Vinales in MotoGP - but won't fix his big problem

The prelude to Maverick Vinales' move to Aprilia has been his tortured exit from Yamaha. But the Spanish rider must put allegations of sabotage, suspensions and unwanted personnel changes aside once he embarks upon his new journey, while Aprilia must find a way to get Vinales firing on all cylinders once again

MotoGP
Aug 16, 2021
The rider dilemma facing Petronas SRT for MotoGP 2022 Plus

The rider dilemma facing Petronas SRT for MotoGP 2022

The final pieces of the 2022 rider market have yet to be finalised as Petronas SRT faces several obstacles in replacing the retiring Valentino Rossi and Yamaha factory-bound Franco Morbidelli. SRT’s preferred option has been locked into a KTM deal he doesn’t want, while it’s other target is managed by Rossi himself and wanted at his VR46 team

MotoGP
Aug 10, 2021