Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) looked back to his best in the early stages of today’s Catalan Grand Prix, fighting hard in the lead group, making some determined passes and moving up to sixth place. He said later that it was the best few laps he had ridden since his return to racing.
Sadly, the six-times MotoGP World Champion’s charge ended on lap eight of 24, when he lost the front entering Turn Ten, a tricky low-speed corner that has caught out many riders this weekend. Track conditions have been particularly tricky this weekend, offering little grip and causing high tyre degradation, contributing to six of the 21 starters crashing out, all unharmed.
Marquez was riding in his fifth race since his comeback at April’s Portuguese Grand Prix, following a nine-month layoff due to a right-arm fracture sustained during last July’s Spanish GP.
The 28-year-old Spaniard started today’s race from 13th on the grid but made a great start and immediately started pushing forward. He was determined to show his very best in the early stages because he knows his right arm still isn’t strong enough to operate at 100% strength throughout a MotoGP race.
Tomorrow he remains at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit with the rest of the MotoGP grid for a one-day test. This session will be particularly important to the Repsol Honda and the LCR Honda teams as they continue their ceaseless work to improve the performance of the RC213V machine, winner of seven of the last nine MotoGP Constructors World Championship.
The other top RC213V riders didn’t have a great day at Barcelona-Catalunya either. Local hero Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who had qualified one row higher than Marquez, slid off on lap five at Turn Five, an off-camber left-hander, while the 29-year-old Spaniard was trying to fight his way into the top ten.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) had qualified one place behind Marquez and was aiming for a top-ten finish, but was penalised with a long-lap penalty for running off the track. That sanction dropped him several places and the 29-year-old from Chiba had to be happy with a 13th-place result.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) finished two places ahead of his Japanese team-mate for his second-best result of the year so far. The 24-year-old Spaniard – winner of two Moto2 races at this track – had a difficult qualifying yesterday but kept his focus for today and rode a solid race to 11th, setting a consistent pace throughout, despite the challenging track conditions.
Following tomorrow’s test session the MotoGP paddock has one weekend off before reconvening at the Sachsenring for the German GP on 20th June, following by the Dutch TT at Assen on 27th June. Those back-to-back races precede a five-weekend summer break. The second half of the 2021 season commences with back-to-back races at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on 8th and 15th August.