Honda’s MotoGP riders endured a luckless final few weeks of the 2021 World Championship, following a stunning one-two result by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) at last month’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Misano.
The weekend after that memorable success Marquez fell while riding enduro, suffering a slight head concussion and diplopia. Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion is therefore currently resting at home. The 28-year-old Spaniard will also miss next week’s first off-season tests at Jerez, Spain.
Despite missing the last two races and the first two races of the season Marquez still finished 2021 seventh in the championship, with three wins, at the German Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of the Americas and Emilia-Romagna. He will now focus on returning to full fitness before 2022 pre-season testing commences at Sepang, Malaysia, in early February.
Espargaro’s luck went against him yesterday, when he took a heavy tumble at the high-speed Turn 13 during the FP3 session. Although the 30-year-old Spaniard sustained no fractures in the fall he was battered and bruised, especially to the right side of his ribs, leaving him in considerable pain. Therefore he missed today’s race and hopes to be in good shape to commence off-season testing at Jerez, Spain, on Thursday and Friday.
During those two days Espargaro will continue development work on the prototype of Honda’s 2022 RC213V, which the former Moto2 World Champion and Marquez tried for the first time during a test session that followed September’s San Marino GP at Misano.
Honda’s top finisher in today’s season finale at Valencia was Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol Honda RC213V), who took the chequered flag in 13th place, less than four seconds outside the top ten.
The former Moto2 and Moto3 World Championship showed excellent pace in yesterday’s FP4 session, when riders try their bikes in race set-up with race tyres to work on their race rhythm. That gave the 25-year-old Spaniard lots of confidence going into qualifying but unfortunately he slid off at slow speed, which consigned him to 19th on the grid.
Valencia is one of MotoGP’s tightest racetracks, where overtaking rivals is very complicated and Marquez was hampered by a too-soft front tyre, which caused him difficulties when attacking corners. Therefore he did well to move forward to score some points. Sadly, the result didn’t match his super performance in last Sunday’s Algarve Grand Prix, where he fought for his first podium result of the year, finally coming home a very close fourth.
Team-mate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) showed great promise throughout the weekend, especially in FP4, when he was faster than anyone else. The 29-year-old from Chiba was also a very close second quickest in this morning’s warm-up session.
The former Moto2 race winner started the race from the third row and had a difficult first few laps, which left him with lots of work to do. He was trying hard to make up for lost time when he lost the front at Turn Six on lap five of 27, without injury.