Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) both crashed out of top-ten positions in today’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
Following the exits of the older Marquez brother and Nakagami the top Honda MotoGP finisher was Marquez’s team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who took the chequered flag in 12th, two places ahead of Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V).
Nakagami had started the day so well, riding the fastest lap in this morning’s warm-up session, which Marquez completed a promising sixth fastest.
Marquez’s race ended on the second lap, when he tangled with a rival through the Turn Two/Three Luco/Poggio Secco section and fell. He bravely tried to restart but wasn’t able to, so he withdrew.
This was the six-times MotoGP World Champion’s fourth race since returning from the right-arm injury that had kept him out of racing from last July until last month. Marquez scored back-to-back top-ten results at his first two comeback races, then led the rain-affected French GP two weeks ago, only to tumble out.
Although the 28-year-old Spaniard can ride his RC213V, his right arm muscles are not yet at 100%, so he cannot ride the bike in his usual way. Therefore this is a work in process – Marquez will slowly rebuild strength over the coming weeks and months until he reaches 100% strength.
His exit left Nakagami as the top-placed Honda rider. The 29-year-old Japanese from Chiba was riding a great race, from 12th at the end of the first lap to eighth place with four laps to go. But on lap 20 of 23 he fell as he raced through the Turn 13/14 esses. Like Marquez, he was unhurt.
Espargaro was strong in the early stages of the race, working his way up from 14th on lap one to chase Nakagami, aiming for a top-ten finish. However he lost a section of his RC213V’s aerodynamics, which compromised his performance for the rest of the race.
The younger Marquez was looking forward to the race after a strong performance in morning warm-up. He finally chose the hard-option front slick, which didn’t give the grip he needed in left-handers, so he was unable to push to his usual limits.
The event was overshadowed by the passing of Jason Dupasquier, the 19-year-old Swiss rider who lost his life following an accident in yesterday’s Moto3 Q2 qualifying session. Honda sends its deepest condolences to Dupasquier’s family, team and loved ones.