MotoGP 2022
Round 9

Espargaro And Alex Marquez Eager For Barcelona Home Race

es-ct Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) are keen to put on a home-race show this weekend in front of their thousands of fans, plus family and friends.

Espargaro And Alex Marquez Eager For Barcelona Home Race

Situated 16 miles outside the vibrant city of Barcelona the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit hosts the ninth race of the 20-round 2022 MotoGP World Championship amid a super-busy period during which four races take place over five weeks.

This weekend is extra-special for three of Honda’s MotoGP contingent. Espargaro was born in nearby Granollers and grew up within earshot of the track. Meanwhile Marquez’s hometown of Cervera is just over an hour’s ride away.

Even Japanese star Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) considers this weekend’s event as a second home race, because he spends much of the season living in Barcelona. All three riders have intimate knowledge of the exciting 4.7km/2.89-mile layout.

The Repsol Honda team will be without Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) for some months as the 29-year-old Spaniard undergoes surgery in the USA to correct the humerus bone in his upper right arm, which he fractured in a fall at the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix. It is still too early to estimate when he will return to action.

HRC test-rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will deputise for Marquez, alongside regular factory rider Espargaro. This weekend will be the experienced German’s third race of the 2022 campaign, following a 19th place in Argentina, where he subbed for Marquez, and a DNF at Jerez, where he rode as a wild-card entry.

There have been signs in recent races that Honda’s all-new RC213V is gaining competitiveness. Last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix saw the eighth closest top-ten finish in the 74-year history of premier-class motorcycle racing. Both Nakagami and the elder Marquez brother were part of that history, finishing ten and 11 seconds behind the race winner.

Espargaro and Bradl are particularly looking forward to the one-day test at Barcelona-Catalunya that follows the Catalan GP. MotoGP’s current race weekend format, with the first three free practice sessions counting as pre-qualifying outings for the Q1 and Q2 qualifying sessions, leaves little opportunity for testing different technical solutions, so a full day dedicated to testing is of vital importance.

Espargaro has a strong record at his home track. He scored two podiums in the 125cc class, one win in Moto2 and so far a best result of fifth in MotoGP.

Barcelona-Catalunya also holds happy memories for Bradl, who made his GP debut at the track in 2005. The German scored a memorable victory at the circuit in the 2011 Honda-powered Moto2 race, as well as three MotoGP fifth places with Honda between 2012 and 2014.

Nakagami has been in good form of late, scoring top-eight finishes at the last three races. He was the top Honda rider at Mugello last Sunday and is keen to extend that run this weekend.

The 30-year-old from Chiba has enjoyed some success at Barcelona-Catalunya in the past, standing on the podium after the 2016 Moto2 race. In Nakagami’s four previous MotoGP outings at the venue he has scored a best of seventh, in 2020.

LCR Honda team-mate Alex Marquez arrives at his home track on the back of four successive point scoring finishes as he continues to tweak the settings of his RC213V.

The 26-year-old former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion has previously thrived in front of his home crowd. He won the 2014 Moto3 race at Barcelona-Catalunya, as well as the 2017 and 2019 Moto2 races. In his two previous MotoGP showings he scored solid points, in 13th and 11th.

The Circuit of Barcelona–Catalunya is a favourite with riders and engineers, with a challenging mix of heavy braking zones and fast, flowing corners which are attacked with lots of lean angle.

Honda has achieved some remarkable premier-class successes at the track, which hosted its first Grand Prix in 1992.

Honda took the first of the company’s 11 wins at the track in October 1995, when local hero Alex Criville led home an all-Honda top four, including Shinichi Ito, Loris Capirossi and Mick Doohan. It was the first of five consecutive victories for Honda’s brilliant NSR500 at the track, followed by Carlos Checa in 1996, Doohan in 1997 and 1998 and Criville again in 1999.

Valentino Rossi claimed Honda’s last premier-class two-stroke victory at Barcelona in 2001. Since then, Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez have all won four-stroke MotoGP premier-class races with Honda’s RC211V, RC212V and RC213V machines at the circuit.

The 2022 MotoGP tour continues in Northern Europe, with the German and Dutch rounds on June 19 and 26.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
I know that the home fans will give me an extra boost this weekend. After some hard races this is just what I need to get our year back to where it should be. I arrive as motivated and as focused as ever and from free practice one we will be working to achieve our goals. There’s still a lot of races left to run and what we find in these races can help us a lot at the end of the year. Also with the test on Monday, we will have a lot of bike time to be able to understand everything.

Stefan Bradl
Stefan Bradl 6
Repsol Honda Team
First, I want to wish Marc all the best with his operation and his recovery. I am here for everything that HRC and the Repsol Honda Team need until Marc’s return. We have all seen the level in MotoGP, so we know the challenge that is ahead of us but I am confident that working with Honda and the team we can achieve something. Let’s see what the weekend brings – it will be important to get in a lot of laps and prepare well for Monday’s test.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
I have the feeling that Montmelo is my second home because during the season I live near the circuit! With that in mind, let’s make it a competitive race weekend, like the one we just had at Mugello. We made some good progress there and I was happy with how I performed in the race. I like this track a lot and the aim this weekend is to finish top Honda. Let’s try and do it!

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
It’s my home GP! I love this track. I love the atmosphere there, created by all the fans. It’s a weekend with a lot of emotions and is a special event for me. I’ve won here twice, so I hope we can keep improving our package. It will be a really important weekend, with a really important test on Monday. But first of all I’m looking forward to seeing if we can improve in hot conditions and be fast. We will try to be there, to give 110% like always, leaving nothing in the pocket. We hope the home fans can give us a few more tenths, so we can enjoy a strong result.

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