Fabio Quartararo (HDR – Speed Up Racing) stormed to a stunning first Grand Prix victory at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya to take his first podium finish since Assen 2015 in Moto3™, with the Frenchman finishing 2.492 seconds ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) after his dominant display. The Portuguese rider came through from P17 on the grid to his stunning P2 finish, with home rider and last year’s race winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) taking the final step on the podium in third.
It wasn’t the start the Frenchman would have wanted from pole position, dropping down to fourth on the opening lap as Marquez grabbed the holeshot going down into Turn 1, with Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) slotting in behind. Oliveira again produced a lightning start to get into the top six on the first lap after starting 17th, and by lap 6 the Portuguese rider was shadowing Marquez in second.
The number 44 hit the front a lap later, but Quatararo was on the move. The double FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Champion passed Marquez into Turn 10, and set his sights on Oliveira, making his move at Turn 4 on lap 9 after the KTM rider ran slightly wide.
From there, it was an exhibition job for the 19-year-old. Quartararo was consistently the only rider to dip into the 1:43s, setting new lap records lap after lap to create a 2.2 second gap to Oliveira by lap 18. Meanwhile, the second-place man had pulled away from Marquez, with the Spaniard holding off the chasing Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) and the recovering teammate Schrötter, who ran wide at Turn 1 on lap 6 after setting the fastest lap of the race.
Quartararo took the checkered flag 2.492 seconds ahead, getting himself onto the top step of the podium for the first time since 2014. Marquez held off Schrötter to earn a home turf podium, and he now sits 20 points behind Bagnaia heading to Assen.
Vierge was a solid fifth at his home GP, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) holding off a late charge from Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) to finish 6th, the Italian 0.087 behind in 7th. Championship leader Bagnaia had a disappointing day in eighth, seeing his overall standings lead cut to just one point over Oliveira.
Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) had a phenomenal ride in ninth after being forced to start from the back of the grid with a fuel pump issue, with teammate Iker Lecuona rounding out the top ten. Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) picked up points again in P11, with Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) crossing the line 12th. Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was a solid 13th, with replacement rider Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP 40) topping off a very good weekend in P14.
Hero of the day was undoubtedly Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing), who returned to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after breaking two legs in a motocross accident – the Australian took the last point in P15.
Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Romano Fenati (Marinelli Snipers Team) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) were big name fallers in the race – riders ok.
A phenomenal day then for fabulous Fabio in Barcelona, who kick starts his Moto2™ career with a super victory – can he continue this impeccable form? Meanwhile, heading into Assen, the Championship battle has closed right up…Will Bagnaia fight back at the Dutch TT?
Moto2™ Race Results
1 – Fabio Quartararo (FRA) SPEED UP 38’22.059
2 – Miguel Oliveira (POR) KTM +2.492
3 – Alex Márquez (SPA) KALEX +3.48