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 entire grid 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.
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.
Quartararo started well from pole and emerged through the first corners in third place. He got into a hard fight. A mistake on lap 2 dropped him back to fifth and he lost another position to Johann Zarco, but that was only temporary. He was soon back into fifth position hunting down the leading quartet.
The Frenchman promptly closed the gap and started picking off the riders ahead of him one by one. With 18 laps to go, he was in second place and eager to chase down Miguel Oliveira, one second in front of him. The championship leader knew he had the pace with some clear space in front of him.
The number-20 rider had the bit between his teeth. Five laps later, he put his YZR-M1 in first place and tried to clear off, but Oliveira used the slipstream to retake the lead. Quartararo had to be clever, picking a strategy that would keep him firmly ahead. However, left-side tyre degradation and an unexpected situation with his rider gear spoiled his plans. He fell back to third. Still, El Diablo bravely soldiered on and managed to hold on to his position until the chequered flag. A 3-second penalty for taking a shortcut after running wide cost him a place on the podium, putting him fourth in the results.
Jack Miller who started from the front row of the grid from second place, took an early lead after the start, but he eventually dropped back after a few laps. Despite this, Miller continued to ride at a consistent pace, managing the tyre wear and waiting until the race’s final stages to try to get closer to the podium. Fourth with nine laps to go, Jack got behind the Desmosedici GP of Johann Zarco, with whom he was able to catch first Mir and then Quartararo. The latter was first overtaken by the Pramac Racing Team rider and then went wide between Turn 1 and Turn 2, cutting the chicane to rejoin. Because of this mistake, the Frenchman had to serve a three-second penalty, which saw him drop back to fourth at the end of the race and hand the third step of the podium to Miller, who was right behind him at the finish line.
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.
“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.”
“I am very happy, it was an incredible race filled with the unexpected and many twists. I tried my best, and second place is a great result. We worked very well and I couldn’t be happier.”
“Today, it was crucial to gain some points on Quartararo! In the race, I managed the rear tyre well, while the front tyre was a little overheated all the time, but we still managed to have some great battles. On the last lap, I was very close to Quartararo, and I would have had another chance to pass him, but I saw him cut the chicane, and I knew he would have had to take a penalty because he had gained a lot of time there. So, I tried to stay as close to him as possible and not make any mistakes to secure third place. This is the first time I’ve been on the podium at Montmeló, and I’m thrilled with this result, both for the whole team and for me!”