Tito Rabat’s race in the Catalan Grand Prix ended under dramatic circumstances when the Reale Avintia Ducati caught fire on the main straight on Sunday.
The Avintia rider looked set for a Top 10 finish in the Catalan MotoGP race last weekend until Lap 17 of 24 when his Desmosedici GP17 caught fire during his battle for position with Tech 3 Yamaha’s Hafizh Syahrin.
The Spaniard had a good weekend in his home grand prix as he started the race from ninth on Sunday. He dropped places to be 13th after the opening lap but fought his way up to ninth while tussling with Syahrin.
However, the Ducati’s left side just near the rear tyres was ablaze as he approached Turn 1. The marshals were quick to the scene with an extinguisher to douse the fire as Avintia returned empty handed after Xavier Simeon also suffered a crash.
When asked by Formula Rapida, Avintia’s spokesperson said it was one of the exhaust pipes which broke during the race, leading to the fire. The exact cause is yet to be determined by its manufacturer Akrapovic and also Ducati.
The team suggests it may have been a miscalculation on the mileage aspect of the part – that the pipe had run its course, but reiterates that the reason will only be cleared once the final investigation is performed by Akrapovic and Ducati.
“It was a shame because until this moment, our weekend was perfect, the race included,” said Rabat after the weekend. “We were close to the front and I think it would have been possible to score a good result.
“We had positive experiences throughout the weekend, like our strong FP3 that allowed me to get straight in Q2, like my good start in the race today and my strong race pace. I overtook several riders and got a lot of information for my technical crew.
“I’m happy because race by race I feel more confident with the bike. I love how the Ducati works and my team did a wonderful job again. We wanted to push very hard at home, and this things can happen. Now we are concentrating on tomorrow’s test and the next round in Assen.”
Rabat sits 14th in the riders’ standings on 27 points after seven races in the 2018 season while rookie teammate Simeon is yet to open his account. Meanwhile, Avintia is 10th with 27 points in the teams’ standings, five ahead of factory Aprilia.