MONTMELÓ, Spain — Miguel Oliveira won the Catalonia GP for his first MotoGP victory of the season on Sunday in front of nearly 20,000 fans, the biggest crowd for any event in Spain since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
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 Jack Miller.
Miller earned the final podium spot after pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo was handed a three-second penalty for cutting corners, dropping him to fourth place.
Quartararo, who started from pole for the fifth straight time this season, exchanged the lead with Oliveira a few times before the Frenchman started to struggle as his racing suit began to open and he lost his chest protector.
Quartararo saw his championship lead reduced to 17 points over Zarco.
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.