Catalan GP: Unexpected win for Miguel Oliveira & KTM

Official KTM rider Miguel Oliveira has taken an unexpected victory at the Catalan GP this Sunday at the Barcelona Circuit. Behind the Portuguese pilot, who was not among the favourites, came Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team). The Austalian got third after Fabio Quartararo’s sanction (Yamaha) demoted him to sixth. 

The French pilot suffered some unusual issues with his suit in the final stretch of the GP as his leathers unfastened in the middle of the race. To make matters worse, he straight-lined the turn one chicane and was given a 6-second penalty after the end of the race. 

Despite his disappointing performance, ‘El Diablo’ remains at the front of the standings with 115 points but his fellow Frenchman Zarco has closed in on him to 14 points. Third in the standings is Miller with 90 points, two more than his teammate, Pecco Bagnaia. 

Quartararo loses pole at the start  

Pole holder Fabio Quartararo, winner in DohaJerez & IMugello, fell to third place at the start of the Catalan GP after being surpassed by Miller and Oliveira. Shortly after, the Portuguese pilot took the lead of the Spanish round ahead of Miller and Mir. A couple of laps later, the leader of the standings fell another two places to fifth. 

With 20 laps remaining, Oliveira increased his lead to almost one second over his two pursuers. Meanwhile, an outstanding Marc Márquez climbed up to sixth while his teammate Pol Espargaró crashed shortly after Danilo Petrucci’s own fall.

Back at the lead, the Portuguese from KTM increased his distance to 1, 208 seconds with Quartararo unexpectedly popping up behind him. Slowly but surely, the #20 had come back all the way to second after passing  Mir, Miller, Zarco and Aleix, all of whom now closed the six top places. 

After giving his tires a calculated respite, Fabio increased his pace and went on the hunt for Oliveira. A few meters behind, on the 24th lap, Marc Márquez crashed for the third consecutive time after Le Mans and Mugello while at the same time Quartararo was finally overtaking Oliveira. 

Mir kept behind (+ 0.453s) in third followed by Miller and Zarco but when it seemed that the time had come for Quartararo to escape to victory, nothing happened…something was wrong with his Yamaha. 

Quartarario vs Oliveria

Quartararo and Oliveira were racing just three-tenths of a second apart and at just eleven laps to the finish line, the Portuguese performed a great overtake on Fabio and took the lead of the race.   

Meanwhile, Mir was prowling on third. Aware of their opportunity ahead, Zarco and Miller -who won in SpainFrance,raised their pace and surpassed the Spaniard from Suzuki. 

It was also another disastrous day for Rossi, who became the fifth pilot to retire after Aleix EspargaróViñales meanwhile kept quietly in sixth with his sights set on Mir. 

Back at the top of the track, Oliveira and Fabio escaped ahead of the pack. With seven laps remaining, it became increasingly apparent that this was a two-horse race for the win. Zarco and Miller were grouped together behind and Mir and Viñales followed in fifth and sixth, respectively. 

Quartararo´s issues

It was then that Quartararo began to suffer from some unusual wardrobe malfunction. His leather suit split open after apparently losing the chest protector. He was first overtaken by Oliveira and then by Zarco.

There was no time for more. The #88 claimed his first victory of the season and third of his MotoGP career ahead of a solid Zarco, who narrowed his distance with his compatriot and leader of the standings, Quartararo. 

The latter lost his third position to Miller after receiving a six-second penalty for straight-lining the turn one chicane at Montmeló. The best of the Spaniards was Mir with a fourth place, ahead of Viñales, fifth.

Images of Catalan GP: KTM.

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