NEW factory KTM rider Miguel Oliveira claimed his third victory in the premier class in a drama-filled Catalan grand prix on Sunday.
Using chassis upgrades and a new fuel supplier, the young Portuguese rider ran a commanding race to fend off a charging Johann Zarco for his first win as a factory rider.
Off the line, Aussie Jack Miller used the horsepower of his Ducati GP21 to get the holeshot ahead of Oliveira and Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo.
Miller ran wide at turn 4 gifting Oliveira the lead in the early stages, while championship leader Quartararo dropped back to fifth behind a hard charging reigning world champion Joan Mir and a rejuvenated Aleix Espargaro.
Oliviera extended his lead over the next stages of the race as battles behind him slowed the chase, with Miller dropping back to fourth behind Quartararo and Mir.
Quartararo then dispensed of Mir with a beautifully placed lunge at turn 7 then preceded to etch out a 1.2 second lead over the Suzuki man.
The Frenchman then honed in on Oliveira, trading places at the front before Oliveira’s hard compound Michelin allowed him to squeeze out a gap over the Yamaha rider.
Quartararo appeared to be fading as his medium front tire began loosing grip, allowing a charging Zarco to close in before eventually out dragging him into second position.
Quartararo was then caught in a battle with Suzuki’s Mir before a bizarre incident with his leathers caused controversy among the MotoGP community.
He was also handed a three second penalty for cutting the track after out-braking himself during his battle with Mir, demoting him to sixth at the flag.
Oliviera continued to push his KTM RC16, keeping a steady 0.175 second gap over Zarco to cross the line to victory, with Zarco second and Miller in a hard fought third.
Despite this, half the paddocks eyes were focused on ‘leather gate’, and the bizarre scenes that caused Quartararo to ride his 200hp Yamaha at over 350km/h with his chest exposed.
At the height of the race, Quartararo’s Alpinestars race suit burst open, the zip appearing to fail, causing him to discard his chest protector onto the track and riding a number of laps with his chest exposed.
The MotoGP rulebook states that the race suit must be worn ‘correctly fastened at all times’ and must include a chest protector.
However the lack of a black flag for the Frenchman caused him to circulate with open leathers for a number of laps before he managed to close the zip and continue.
Many are asking why he wasn’t black flagged, including the podium trio, who condemned the race stewards for their lack of action.
Many of the online community are also calling out race direction for their lack of action during the race in what was a serious safety concern, just one week after the tragic death of Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier in qualifying at the Italian GP.
Despite this, Quartararo maintains his lead at the top of the table, but sees his lead cut to just 17 points as Zarco gains valuable points going into round 8 in Germany.
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