MotoGP, Oliveira crée la surprise au GP de Catalogne

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Le Portugais, qui s’impose devant Johann Zarco et Jack Miller, aura réalisé une course irréprochable.

Miguel Oliviera (KTM) P1. Pht. Michelin Motorsport

Oliveira, l’invité inattendu

Dimanche tout le monde s’attendait à une victoire de Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Le Niçois partait non seulement de la pole, y avait décroché le tout premier succès de sa carrière en 2018, à l’époque du Moto2 et n’y avait jamais raté un podium depuis son ascension dans la cour des grands. Beaucoup avaient sans doute sous-estimé Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), fraîchement récompensé d’un podium au Mugello… et pourtant ! C’est bel et bien le natif de Pragal qui s’illustrait en terres catalanes, au terme d’une course menée quasiment de bout en bout. Le Portugais compte ainsi trois victoires en MotoGP désormais.

#5 Johann Zarco (Ducatti) P2. Pht. Michelin Motorsport

Le fil du Grand Prix

Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) s’était porté en tête au premier freinage, malgré un très bon départ du poleman Fabio Quartararo. Miguel Oliveira en profitait également par s’infiltrer et c’est justement lui qui était le grand bénéficiaire de ce léger écart commis par l’Australien un tour plus tard. Dans la confusion, Fabio Quartararo perdait de son côté deux positions face au binôme Aleix Espargaró (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), deux places qu’il reprenait toutefois par la suite dans la mesure où l’un comme l’autre finissait par lâcher du lest.

#43 Jack Miller (Ducatti) P3. Pht. Michelin Motorsport

Pire encore, pour le local de l’étape, puisque ce dernier se faisait piéger au virage 10 ; une courbe qui faisait d’autres victimes à l’image de Marc Márquez (Repsol Honda Team). Parmi les pilotes à être partis au tapis, figuraient également son frère Pol Espargaró (Repsol Honda Team), Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing), Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) et Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT).

Joan Mir (Suzuki) P4. Pht. Michelin Motorsport

Fabio Quartararo se débarrassait ensuite de Jack Miller pour se lancer à la poursuite du leader. Oui mais voilà, d’une part il court-circuitait le premier enchaînement droite / gauche et en prime, sa combinaison s’ouvrait. Le torse à l’air libre, notre Niçois tentait de résister à Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), qui venait de prendre l’ascendant sur Jack Miller. En vain, son compatriote parvenait à le passer.

Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) P3 mais après les pénalités P6. Pht. MotoGP

‘El Diablo’ ralliait finalement l’arrivée au troisième rang, tandis que Miguel Oliveira s’imposait tranquillement devant Johann Zarco. Sauf que le représentant du team Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP écopait de trois secondes de pénalité pour cette erreur commise à quelques boucles du but. De quoi offrir le podium à Jack Miller.

Start of Race. Pht. Michelin Motorsport

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) et Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) se classaient quant à eux cinquième et sixième. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) terminait pour sa part septième. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) et Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) complétaient le Top 10.

JOHANN ZARCO FRA / MIGUEL OLIVEIRA POR / JACK MILLER AUS, Podium. Pht. Michelin Motorsport

La situation au Championnat

Après sept épreuves, Fabio Quartararo possède donc 17 points d’avance sur Johann Zarco et 28 sur Jack Miller. La prochaine course aura lieu dans deux semaines au Sachsenring.

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Classement GP de Catalogne ici

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Oliveira produces perfection to win in Barcelona

It’s a first win of the season for the Portuguese star and KTM as drama unfolds for Quartararo; two Ducatis secure podiums

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) returned to winning ways thanks to a perfect performance in a scintillating Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, as just 0.175s splits the race winner and second place Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) at the finish line. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was promoted to P3 at the end of the race as World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is handed a three-second penalty for a shortcut at Turns 1 and 2, while the Frenchman also encounters a strange issue with his leathers.

A fascinating victory tale in Catalonia

It was Miller who was last of the late brakers into Turn 1, the Australian ducking up the inside of polesitter Quartararo into Turn 1 to crucially grab the lead for the pre-race favourite. Oliveira got a great launch from P4 on the grid and also got the better of Quartararo, the Portuguese rider slotting into P2 behind Miller with Quartararo having to settle for P3.

El Diablo, in a very busy opening handful of laps, looked a bit impatient and a mistake at Turn 7 saw him drop to P5, with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) making a phenomenal start from 10th to get into the top three in the early stages. Oliveira took the race lead baton from Miller on Lap 2 and was able to stretch a one-second advantage out, with Quartararo able to carve his way back up to P2 by Lap 7.

Some low 1:40s saw Quartararo reel in Oliveira. Mir, Miller and Zarco were line astern behind the World Championship leader, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) two seconds off the top five in P6 and P7.

On Lap 12, Quartararo made his move. Better edge grip exiting Turn 4 saw the Frenchman slice his way up the inside of Oliveira at Turn 5, but the latter returned the favour at the start of Lap 14. The extra KTM grunt, coupled with a dose of slipstream, saw Oliveira re-take the lead, as 1.3s covered the front five: Oliveira, Quartararo, Mir, Miller, and Zarco.

With nine laps to go, Oliveira and Quartararo were edging clear. Zarco and Miller both passed Mir, with Viñales now latched onto the back of the reigning World Champion – the factory Yamaha displaying very strong latter half of the race pace. However, Zarco in third was now 1.2s behind Quartararo, who was staying tucked up behind the race leading KTM. Who had something to spare? Oliveira was on the hard-hard Michelin combination, Quartararo the medium-hard.

With five laps to go, Zarco had closed the gap to the front two to under a second. We were deep into the Catalan GP, tyre wear was in full effect, and it was fourth place Miller who was the fastest of the leading quartet. And with four to go, Oliveira was suddenly 0.9s clear of Quartararo, the latter having his closest title rival right behind him – Zarco.

Zarco passed Quartararo on the straight, the Yamaha star was now all of a sudden struggling and he was almost down at Turn 1. The polesitter was forced to run wide at Turn 1 with three to go, he returned back to track in P3, as we saw a unique situation unfold – Quartararo’s leathers were undone, his chest protector was thrown away and Miller was all over the back of him.

Elsewhere in the points…

In the end, Mir had no answer in the podium scrap and faded in the final stages. From 10th on the grid to P5, it was a solid effort from the number 36 who was able to keep Viñales at bay – P6 for the latter. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was 1.8s down on Viñales at the chequered flag in a quiet outing for the Italian, P7 for Bagnaia, as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) takes P8 just 0.2s behind Pecco.

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was another rider to have a quiet afternoon, the Italian finished a lonely P9. 3.6s adrift of Morbidelli in P10 was rookie and reigning Moto2™ World Champion Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama), that’s his third top 10 of the season. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) – who crashed on the sighting lap and was forced to start from the back of the grid upon his return from injury – and Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) picked up the remaining points on offer in Barcelona.

Both Repsol Honda Team machines suffered DNFs in the early stages, Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez going down uninjured at Turn 4 and Turn 10 respectively. Aleix Espargaro and Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) were two other riders to join Marc Marquez in crashing at Turn 10, as Danilo Petrucci and teammate Iker Lecuona also crashed out on Sunday afternoon – all riders ok.

A tasty World Championship chase in 2021

Oliveira and KTM deliver an outstanding Sunday performance to win their first race of 2021. The Austrian factory are back in business this season after a tricky opening few rounds, and that’s two podiums in two for Oliveira.

In terms of the World Championship, Zarco has closed the gap to Quartararo. It’s now 17 points between the Frenchmen heading to Germany, 30 points split the top four. Game on.