Miguel Oliveira clinches first MotoGP victory of season at Catalunya
Fans returned to MotoGP for the first time in 2021 and witnessed a sensational Miguel Oliveira became the fourth different MotoGP winner of the season when the Portuguese Red Bull KTM star claimed his first win this year at Catalunya.
It was a stunning victory for Oliveira who held off Championship leader Fabio Quartararo for most of the race before the Monster Energy Yamaha rider’s tyres went off.
Quartararo did retake the lead at the halfway stage when Oliveira ran wide at Turn 4 but the Portuguese star hit back at the next turn and from there to the chequered flag controlled the race.
Johann Zarco was now on the move and disposed of fellow Ducati rider Jack Miller and reigning world champion, Suzuki’s Joan Mir by lap 16 and set off in pursuit of race leader Oliveira.
The French rider closed the gap to Oliveira to 0.175 at the line to claim his fourth podium of the season for Pramac Ducati.
Completing the podium was Lenovo Ducati’s Miller, who now moves to third in the title race, after Quartararo was penalised three seconds for cutting the track and three seconds for riding with his leathers unfastened.
Although Quartararo repassed Miller to cross the line in third the penalties dropped him to sixth. He rode the final three laps with his leathers open after discarding his chest protector and was lucky not to be ‘black flagged’.
“I was not super fast but I was constant and that was the most important thing today,” said Oliveira.
“Ever since Friday afternoon we have been trying the hard front tyre and I think it was key to us to win the race. It was the most incredible thing about this win to do it in front of fans because I got two without any crowd.
“Just to be able to run to the crowd to get a flag and feel the energy is quite amazing and thankfully we are taking steps to a normal scenario.”
Meanwhile, Remy Garner left it until three laps from home to make a great move into Turn 1 for the lead passing Red Bull Ajo KTM team mate Raul Fernandez for victory in the Moto2 race.
The Australian, who signed with KTM MotoGP for 2022 during the week, stretches his lead in the championship over Fernandez to eleven points. Xavi Vierge finished third while Brit Sam Lowes salvaged a disappointing weekend with seventh.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia claimed his second win of the season for the GASGAS Aspar Team after a final lap battle with Jeremy Alcoba in an incident packed Catalunya Moto3 race.
Denis Oncu completed the podium after Jaume Masia was demoted a place for a track limits infringement in the closing stages of the 21 lap race.
Scotland’s John McPhee, fastest in morning warm-up, crashed out of the lead at Turn 2 on lap ten.
Pedro Acosta still leads the championship after starting 25th on the grid, leading the race on the penultimate lap and eventually crossing the line in seventh.