Miguel Oliveira won the Catalonia GP for his first MotoGP victory of the season in front of nearly 20,000 fans, the biggest crowd for any event in Spain since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Australian Jack Miller took third spot on the podium after championship leader Fabio Quartararo was hit with a three-second penalty when he veered off the track cutting corners just a couple of laps before the finish.
Quartararo finished fourth when he copped the penalty after a bizarre malfunction with his leathers mid-race.
Quartararo started from pole for the fifth straight time this season and exchanged the lead with Oliveira a few times before the Frenchman started to struggle as his racing suit began to open and he chucked out his chest protector.
On lap 22 Quartararo was seen racing with his leathers totally unzipped, which clearly caused him some frustration, and led to him straying off track, costing him dearly.
“Is he a bit uncomfortable? He’s got his leathers out, what’s going on?” MotoGP commentators remarked.
“Fabio Quartararo has got some issues. He’s taking his chest protector out. You can see his necklace and bare chest.
“He’s shaking his head. It’s going wrong for the championship leader.
“His podium is gone. He had little option to do that, but ultimately it’s cost him third place and he moves back to fourth.
“Suggestions are the airbag popped so then he had to remove the chest protector and then I’m guessing he couldn’t actually get his zip done up again.”
Aussie MotoGP legend Casey Stoner suggested that Quartararo should have even been disqualified for the incident.
“Whether or not it was [Fabio Quartararo] taking his zipper down on purpose, I believe that should have been a black flag,” Stoner tweeted.
“At this level you can’t be allowed to race at 350km + with your leathers open.”
Quartararo saw his championship lead reduced to 17 points over Zarco.
He disagreed with Stoner’s assessment.
“Well, I think I already have a penalty that I don’t agree [with], demoted three seconds from P3 to P4,” Quartararo told Autosport.
“But I think this penalty is quite enough. But at the end, it’s finished, the race is finished.
“The safety… we finished the race, everything is safe.
“So, I think right now it’s not enough to talk anymore because the race is finished. I think there’s no point to talk anymore about these possible things.”
“What happened I don’t know, I just know that I had the leathers completely open in the first corner five laps to go,” he added.
The crowd of 19,352 at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit surpassed the nearly 15,000 that attended Spain’s friendly soccer match against Portugal on Friday at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. Only smaller crowds had been allowed at events across Spain, which was one of the European countries hardest-hit by the pandemic.
Fans were divided among eight different sectors around the track near Barcelona, with a maximum of 3,000 people in each.
“Amazing to have the fans here,” said Oliveira, the Portuguese rider for Red Bull KTM who finished ahead of Johann Zarco and Miller.
Six-time MotoGP champion Marc Márquez continued to struggle after returning from a long injury layoff, failing to finish a race for the third straight time — something that had never happened before in his MotoGP career. The Spaniard crashed after starting in 13th place.
Veteran Italian rider Valentino Rossi also crashed.
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