KTM’s Miguel Oliveira takes stride at Catalan MotoGP
Starting from the top of the second row, it was Oliveira’s RC16 that made the most substantial jump away from the grid.
The Portuguese slotted into 2nd place and then the lead by the start of the second circulation.
Oliveira set the pace from the front while running a Hard-Hard tire combination and expertly managed his grip to deflect the attention from Fabio Quartararo.
And then Johann Zarco to earn a total of 25 points, pulling 45 from a possible 50 in the last two meetings.
Brad Binder rode just inside the top ten and had a close fight with Pecco Bagnaia.
The South African lost out in the chase to 7th place but by just two-tenths of a second.
Iker Lecuona fell out of 9th position with just seven laps remaining when they tumbled at Turn 13, while teammate Danilo Petrucci crashed out at Turn 9 in the first quarter of the race.
Oliveira is now 7th in the world championship points table, with Binder in 9th and 11 adrift from his teammate. A one-day IRTA test on Monday will follow the Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Round eight of nineteen will see MotoGP venture into the tight twist of the Sachsenring in Germany and another circuit that missed the limited 2020 calendar. The Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland will take place on June 18-20.
Miguel Oliveira: “This is almost hard to put into words. I had one of the best races of my career so far. Everything was so hard; the tire management and keeping my cool when Fabio put pressure on me for so many laps.
I kept calm when he overtook me and took my chance on the straight to get him back.
It was a perfect race, and I cannot thank the Red Bull KTM guys enough for giving me an ideal machine to get back here to the top of the podium. I also want to thank the fans.
Everything has been excellent, having the public here and getting back to normal.”
Brad Binder: “It was a tough race. I didn’t get the best starts because someone hit me in Turn 2, and I lost a few positions.
Tried to fight my way through, but I was struggling to get out of the corners. I was catching the group in front of me, but then with three laps to go, I finished my rear tyre, and it was like my speed fell off a cliff: it was impossible to keep going forward.
I would have liked to have done a lot better than eighth place because I felt we had the potential, but I struggled with that rear traction today.”
Iker Lecuona: “I think the end of the weekend didn’t reflect our potential. Before the crash, I had a perfect race.
I kept the gap to [Franco] Morbidelli, and I tried not to lose too much time to the front guys.
I felt pretty good, but I made a mistake in turn 13 and lost the front. We have been working very hard, so I need to thank my crew and the guys from Danilo’s side, who helped fix my bikes from yesterday.
Thanks to the team and sorry for the crash. For sure, we learned a lot. We are very comp. We are on the way to the top. Tomorrow in the test, we will continue to work to improve.
Petrucci: “We knew this could be a difficult race but mainly for the straight, which is the trickiest part for us. The first laps, I was not holding the others’ slipstream, so I struggled to stay in contact.
On the rest of the track, I felt pretty ok. I overtook Valentino [Rossi] in turn four and tried to catch Marc, but I lost the front without warning and crashed. I didn’t expect this at all. I’m disappointed and very sorry for the team.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “The emotions are very high! Today shows that the KTM MotoGP project is heading in a great direction. Miguel rode a fantastic race. What a performance.
There was not a single mistake through the whole distance and at a challenging track. Brad also had a great race, even if he was not too happy, but these races make riders strong.
The Moto2 project is also going well, and it’s so lovely to watch. I have to say a big thank you to all the KTM people at the track and home in Matfen.
The team has to keep pushing because we can see the progress we make. The race team have been fantastic.
The start of the season was not so easy for us, but nobody lost belief. We have all kept strong, and this is also an achievement.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “This is why we go racing. The level of competition on the track and in the pit boxes in MotoGP is so high, and to have days like today give enormous pride to the company and everyone wearing an orange shirt.
And kept believing, kept working and kept pushing. We have such a strong team of guys and experts, and that’s what you need to succeed. It is the perfect motivation for us to open the gas for the rest of the season.”
Results MotoGP Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya 2021
1. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 40:21.749
2. Johann Zarco (FRA), Ducati +0.175
3. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +1.990
4. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +4.815
5. Joan Mir (ESP), Suzuki +5.325
8. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +8.378
DNF. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing
DNF. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing