MotoGP 2021
Round 18

Espargaro Aims For Another Valencia Podium As Marquez Rests Injury

es Circuit Ricardo Tormo

Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will be absent from the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix, leaving team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) to fly the Repsol Honda colours alone.

Espargaro Aims For Another Valencia Podium As Marquez Rests Injury

Marquez won last month’s Grands Prix of the Americas and Emilia-Romagna but was injured in an enduro accident while training for last week’s Algarve GP. The 28-year-old Spaniard suffered a slight head concussion in the fall and has diplopia, so he will stay at home resting.

Espargaro has high hopes for the last race of his first MotoGP season with Honda, because he’s already scored two MotoGP podium finishes at Valencia. Improvements to his RC213V, including a revised chassis to increase cornering performance, have brought him much closer to the front at recent GPs.

At August’s British GP he took his first pole position with Honda and led a race for the first time and at the Emilia-Romagna GP he scored a superb second to give the team a memorable one-two result. Last weekend at Algarve International Circuit the 30-year-old Spaniard was sometimes the fastest rider on track, eventually taking the chequered flag in a close-fought sixth place, only three seconds off a podium finish.

Espargaro’s Emilia-Romagna podium was his seventh in the premier class. The previous two at Valencia were achieved in the rain-lashed 2018 race and in last November’s dry Grand Prix of Europe at the track.

Although the elder Marquez brother wasn’t in action last weekend his younger brother Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol Honda RC213V) definitely was. He had by far his best weekend of 2021 so far, with an impressive ride to fourth place, only 0.051 seconds off the podium.

The former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion wants to continue that momentum into the season finale. Like Espargaro, Marquez has been boosted by a revised chassis which allows him to corner faster, especially through high-speed turns. The Ricardo Tormo Circuit isn’t MotoGP’s fastest, but as always Marquez will be looking to exploit his machine’s performance to the maximum.

The 25-year-old Spaniard has already had some memorable days at Valencia. In 2014 he finished third in the Moto3 race, which secured that year’s Moto3 world title, and in 2018 he was third in the Moto2 race.

This weekend Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu Honda RC213V) completes his fourth season in MotoGP, hoping for a change of fortune after some luckless races. Last Sunday the 29-year-old from Chiba rode a strong race, making plenty of passes, but he had started from the back of the grid, following a minor tumble in qualifying.

Last year Nakagami was one of the fastest riders at the back-to-back races staged at Valencia. He qualified on the front row at both races, finishing fourth in the GP of Europe, less than a second off the podium, and sliding out of the Valencia GP, while challenging Espargaro for third place.

Following Sunday’s last race of MotoGP’s 73rd season, riders and teams head south for a two-day test at Jerez on 18th and 19th November. Marc Marquez will miss the tests to rest his eye injury, with the aim of being 100% fit for his 2022 MotoGP campaign, which begins with pre-season testing at Sepang, Malaysia, in early February.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
First I want to wish Marc all the best during this difficult time and I hope he can recover soon and well. His absence will of course be felt at the track, but we arrive in Valencia still motivated to do our job the best we can. It’s a circuit that I really enjoy a lot, I achieved my first MotoGP podium there in 2018 and I think we can do well there this year. The circuit is very cold at this time of year and this is good for us. It’s the last race, I want to continue the speed from the last races to end well before 2022 begins in Jerez. 

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
The last GP is always special and at Valencia with the grandstands 100% full and a great atmosphere it will be a really nice feeling again. Last weekend at Portimao I had really good performance in FP4, which helped us for the race. Now I’m looking forward to this weekend – working to keep building this confidence. I love Portimao and even if Valencia isn’t one of my favourite tracks it will be important to have the same mentality, the same pace and the same level. We need to be good all weekend – free practice, qualifying and the race, because a good result here is the best way to start preparing for 2022.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
This weekend at Valencia will be the last race of this season. Last year we had good speed in both the races we had at Valencia, so once again we will work hard with the team and hope to have great weekend. 

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