The challenging mix of curves and speed presented by the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya could not halt KTM’s impressive march in MotoGP as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira triumphed in style for round seven of the series.
Created in 1992 and now three decades hosting a MotoGP Grand Prix, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a popular venue for track day activity and the Catalan asphalt was slick, bumpy and difficult for teams to judge in terms of grip and tire abrasion.
Cloudy skies covered the event that saw race fans welcomed back to the grandstands with a limited attendance at the site a short distance north of the city of Barcelona. Temperatures hovered at 25 degrees as the MotoGP KTM quartet pondered between Medium and Hard tire options for the 24-lap chase.
Starting from the top of the second row it was Oliveira’s RC16 that made the strongest 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 but also expertly managed his grip to deflect the attention from Fabio Quartararo and then Johann Zarco to earn the full 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 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 turns that is 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 was putting pressure on me for so many laps. I really kept cool 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 a perfect machine to get back here to the top of the podium. I also want to thank the fans. Everything has been amazing, having the public here and getting back to normal.”
Brad Binder: “It was a really tough race. I didn’t get the best of starts because someone hit me in Turn 2 and I lost a few positions. I tried to fight my way through but I was really struggling to get out of the corners. I was catching the group in front of me but then with three laps to go my rear tire was finished 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 very good race. I kept the gap to [Franco] Morbidelli and I tried not to lose too much time to the front guys. I felt quite good but I made a mistake in turn 13 and lost the front. We have been working very hard so I need to say thanks to my crew and also the guys from Danilo’s side, who helped to fix my both bikes from yesterday. Thanks to the team and sorry for the crash. For sure, we learned a lot, we are very competitive and on the way to the top. Tomorrow in the test, we will continue to work in order to improve.”
Danilo 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 slipstream of the others there, so I really struggled to stay in contact. On the rest of the track, I felt quite ok. I overtook Valentino [Rossi] in turn four and tried to catch Marc, but I lost the front without any 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 an outstanding race. What a performance. There was not a single mistake through the whole distance and at a difficult track. Brad also had a great race even if he is not too happy but these types of races make riders strong. The Moto2 project is also going really well and it’s so nice to watch. I have to say a big thank you to all the KTM people both at the track and at home in Mattighofen. We have 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 come racing. The level of competition on the track and in the pitboxes in MotoGP is so high and to have days like today give enormous pride to the company and everyone wearing an orange shirt. We 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. This is the perfect motivation for us for really open the gas fully 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