Test 2
MotoGP 2021

Honda riders all set to start 2021 MotoGP season

qa Losail International Circuit

Honda’s MotoGP riders are fully ready to commence the 2021 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar later this month after completing preseason testing at Losail today.

Honda riders all set to start 2021 MotoGP season

Latest signing Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) has been Honda’s stand-out performer during the second and final preseason test, completing his 2021 preparations with tenth fastest lap time.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu Honda RC213V), Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol Honda RC213V) and HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) also performed well, gathering plenty of data and information that will help Honda make a strong start to 2021 at the Qatar Grand Prix on March 28.

Today’s action was curtailed by strong winds, which made the going doubly treacherous: gusting at up to 50kmh/30mph and blowing sand onto the track. Espargaro, Nakagami and Bradl were among the few riders who did venture out but they only rode a few laps each, well off their usual pace.

Although the loss of the last day of testing was an inconvenience, because most riders had planned to undertake their final race simulations, Honda’s teams had already done plenty of work with the latest iteration of the RC213V, by the far the most successful MotoGP machine of the last eight seasons.

Espargaro’s rapid adaptation to the bike has been one of the highlights of testing. The 29-year-old Spaniard has been close to the front throughout, setting an excellent pace during longer runs and riding some very fast one-off laps. His best lap was just over a second quicker than the circuit race lap record.

During the tests he tried new chassis parts, new aerodynamics and experimented with different electronics strategies. No new engine specs are allowed for 2021, according to cost-saving regulations introduced in response to the wider effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Espargaro, who won the 2013 Moto2 World Championship aboard a Honda-powered machine, was happy with his progress. Yesterday he did an excellent long run, with used tyres, and had planned to do a full race simulation today, as well as another time attack. Now, after just four days on a new bike, he can’t wait to start racing.

Nakagami is also more than ready to start his fourth session in the premier class of motorcycle Grand Prix racing and his first with a latest-spec RC213V. He has enjoyed getting to grips with his 2021 machine, which is considerably more powerful than the 2019 bike he raced last season. Today the 29-year-old Japanese and his crew made the most of the conditions by focusing all their efforts on practice starts. MotoGP is so closely contested now that a good getaway from the grid is vital for a good result.

Alex Marquez had already decided not to ride today, following a heavy fall yesterday, in which he sustained a fracture of the fourth metatarsal in his right foot. Nevertheless the 2019 Moto2 World Champion feels he had already covered most of the work he needed to do with his new LCR team and is now hoping he will be close to full fitness for the first race of his second season in the MotoGP class.

It’s still not certain who will be Espargaro’s team-mate at the Qatar GP. Although six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) continues to progress through the final stages of his recovery from injury he has yet to be given the green light to go racing by his doctors. Today his team announced that bone consolidation around the fracture site is going well, so that he can intensify his strength and mobility recovery programme.

In Marquez’s absence Bradl continued to ride the former champion’s bikes at Losail, the 31-year-old German doing a great job of evaluating numerous new solutions to further improve the performance of the RC213V. If Marquez is unable to be present at the first race then Bradl will race in his place, as he did for much of last season.

The season-opening Qatar GP is immediately followed by the Doha GP on April 4. Then the MotoGP paddock returns to Europe, where the race is due to continue with the Portuguese GP at Portimao on April 18.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
10th, 1m 53.899s
I wouldn’t really call what we did laps, but this is what the situation was for everyone today. Anyway, with just four days of testing we have done very well. I feel quite prepared for the first race and to do this in such a short time against riders who have been on their bikes a long time, it’s a relief I have adapted to the Honda well. I want to thank all the Repsol Honda Team for their work over these days. The team has been great, and we have made the most of the testing time we are given. Now we see what the season will bring.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
12th, 1m 54.262s
Today we had to wait in the pit for a long time to get better conditions. In the end I tried to go out to check the track condition but it was really difficult to make a lap and understand anything. We made a few laps but after that we changed strategy to making practice starts for the race weekend and this was useful because it’s a new bike and a new system to start the bike. It was very interesting and we got good feedback for the race weekend, unfortunately we were not able to make any long runs or do more laps, but we are ready for the race weekend. We’ll have a strong mentality and I can’t wait for the racing to start.

Stefan Bradl 6
Repsol Honda Team
13th, 1m 54.427s
Unfortunately today there’s not much to talk about because the weather and the sand was not very good, the conditions meant we couldn’t try anything. Six days on the bike here, it started very well but we had a couple of tough moments towards the end – this happens. We have worked through our test plan and now the engineers have a lot of good data to study. We can be happy because the bike is working well, and I think Honda is in a good position for the first race.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
18th, 1m 54.692s
We took the decision last night not to ride on this last day of the test, so that we were in better shape for the race weekend in two weeks’ time. Also, the weather at the track wasn’t great this evening. I still went to the track to have a good look at lots of videos and data information in order to improve even further. I’d like to say a big thank you to the LCR Honda CASTROL Team for this first test. I feel so good with the bike and team and I am ready to start the season. I am looking forward to being here again with the team in Qatar and I hope I can be at one hundred percent after my injury to my right foot.

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