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125: Zarco stripped of Catalunya victory

5 June 2011

125cc World Championship leader Nico Terol took something of a hollow victory at Catalunya on Sunday, when Race Direction dropped Johann Zarco from first to sixth for an 'illegal overtake' on the exit of the final turn.

Zarco looked to have seized his very first grand prix victory when he dived inside an overly cautious Terol into the last corner.

The pair were side-by-side on the exit, with Zarco leaning a little on the Aspar Aprilia rider as they both rode over the kerb, pushing Terol onto the grass.

Race Direction immediately announced an investigation and, in the aftermath of the Marco Simoncelli penalty at Le Mans, few were surprised when Zarco was punished.

But while a time penalty that resulted in a reversal of position would have been arguable, the 20-second 'ride-through' handed out seemed over the top given that only light contact was made and no rider fell.

The contact was certainly far less than in the Valentino Rossi/Sete Gibernau clash at the final turn of Jerez 2005, when leader Gibernau was sent spearing through a gravel trap while Rossi went unpunished and won the race.

Zarco's penalty promoted Jonas Folger to third.

Terol had suffered his first defeat of 2011 when he was overtaken by rookie Maverick Vinales at the final turn of the previous French Grand Prix, round four.

Riding with slick tyres on a damp but drying track, Vinales was bravest in the early laps at Catalunya, powering past Terol and pulling a near two-second lead.

But Terol and Zarco reeled the youngster back in and, with the sun shining and a clear dry line developing, Terol retook the lead on lap 8 of 22.

Zarco demoted Vinales a lap later, and the top three remained together until the closing stages, when Vinales began to drop away and settled for what became second.

Paris Hilton made her first visit to a grand prix at Catalunya on Sunday and was present on the grid to support her riders Vinales and Sergio Gadea, then watched the race from pit wall.

Race Results - Catalunya:

1. Terol (Aprilia) 22 laps
2. Vinales (Aprilia) +10.356s
3. Folger (Aprilia) +15.260s
4. Cortese (Aprilia) +15.670s
5. Vazquez (Derbi) +15.942s
6. Zarco (Derbi) +19.758s
7. Faubel (Aprilia) +26.490s
8. Gadea (Aprilia) +26.681s
9. Martin (Aprilia) +36.134s
10. Kornfeil (Aprilia) +36.776s

11. Kent (Aprilia) +37.936s
26. McPhee (Aprilia) +2laps
28. Mackenzie (Aprilia) +s
Webb (Mahindra) DNF
Stafford (Aprilia) DNF


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