Championship leader Nico Terol emerged victorious for the fourth time in five races after a controversial finish to the 125cc Catalan Grand Prix saw Frenchman, Johan Zarco, penalised for an “illegal overtaking move” at the last corner of the race. The pair battled for the second half of the race, easily pulling away from Maverick Vinales, and with three laps to go Terol waved his rival past as they entered the stadium section. Zarco was unable to open a lead and on the final lap Terol blasted past on the home straight heading into turn one. The Aspar rider opened a sizeable lead but Zarco, looking to take his first career victory, kept in touch before closing in the final sector. As they exited the fast right hander leading into the final corner Terol took a defensive line that cost him lots of momentum. Zarco, taking the racing line, was considerably faster and closing rapidly. As the riders exited the corner and headed for the finish line Zarco was edging clear of Terol. The Aspar rider fought for the position and with Zarco closing down to the kerb the Derbi rider flared his elbow and started to edge Terol ever closer to the grass. The championship leader refused to concede the corner and started to kick up dirt and dust from the grass run off. Zarco was now in front and celebrating as he crossed the line. Terol was fuming and threw his hands up into the air clearly incensed by the aggressive move. Race control quickly investigated the move and penalised Zarco 20 seconds, the equivalent time penalty of a ride through, which dropped the Frenchman to sixth position in the standings. It was clear that this would be, particularly in the light of Simoncelli’s Le Mans punishment, a hot topic after the race and the stewards decided that a penalty needed to be handed down. The time penalty they gave was the only time penalty that could add to a rider’s finishing time once the chequered flag dropped but it was a punishment far more severe than the crime that Zarco committed. It was clearly hard and aggressive riding from Zarco but it was also a touch excessive to penalise him for the incident. If the Le Mans crash had not taken place would this even have warranted a discussion by race control? The incident clearly was the biggest incident of the race but the 125cc class put on a fantastic 22 laps run in mixed conditions. The race started on a damp track but it was clear that there would be no more rain and that a dry line would quickly emerge. As a result the majority of the field was left with no option but to start the race on slick tyres. Terol made the best get away and led the opening lap. Vinales, the winner of the last Grand Prix, was clearly keen to add a home success and become the youngest ever back to back winner in the 125cc class. For the opening half of the race the youngster was clearly in contention but as the race progressed, and the track dried, Terol and Zarco got faster and faster and ultimately left Vinales trailing in their wake. It was to be a lonely end to the race for the Blusens rider but, aided by Zarco’s penalty, he finished second. At one point in the race Jonas Folger looked set to join the leading group but ultimately the German had to settle for third after a stunning late race battle with Sandro Cortese. Folger always excels in this type of mixed conditions, clearly unconcerned by the lack of grip. The Red Bull Ajo Aprilia rider had so much trust in his bike throughout the early stages of the race and his podium was well deserved after beating Cortese to the line by just 0.4s who finished just in front of Efren Vazquez. Zarco was classified sixth but this was clearly a race that got away from the Frenchman who will now be exceptionally fired up for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend.
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