MotoGP 2021
Round 4

Nakagami just 0.690 seconds off Jerez podium

es Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu Honda RC213V) had a thrilling ride to an ultra-close fourth place finish in the Spanish sunshine at Jerez today.

Nakagami just 0.690 seconds off Jerez podium

The 29-year-old from Chiba was one of the fastest riders during the closing stages of the race – thanks to his RC213V preserving its rear tyre so well – as he chased a first MotoGP podium. He took the chequered flag just 0.690 seconds behind the third-place finisher, essentially replicating his result from last year’s Andalusian GP at Jerez.

Nakagami had a challenging start to the 2021 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar and in Portugal, where he raced in considerable discomfort following a high-speed tumble in practice. Although not fully recovered the former Moto2 winner rode superbly throughout the Jerez weekend and the equal-best result of his premier-class career was richly deserved.

During practice Nakagami reverted to the RC213V chassis he used so successfully last season. Although the differences between the two iterations are minor he simply feels more comfortable with the equipment he used in all 14 rounds of the 2020 MotoGP season.

The race also gave Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) reason to celebrate. Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion finished a very close ninth in only his second race since his return to racing following a nine-month layoff with an arm injury.

The 28-year-old Spaniard crossed the line just ten seconds behind the winner, an improvement on his Portuguese GP result two weeks ago, when he finished 13 seconds behind the winner. This was an impressive result which underlines the fact that Marquez is continuing his return to his normal pace, step by step.

In fact his result was remarkable because he suffered two high-speed tumbles at Jerez – the first in yesterday morning’s FP3 session, the second in this morning’s warm-up session. Both crashes happened at the Turn Seven left-hander and were mostly attributable to cool front tyres. The weather at Jerez has been cooler than usual at this time of year, the traditional time for the Spanish GP.

At least the two tumbles give Marquez reassurance that his right arm – which has undergone three surgeries since last July – is back to full strength. His current issue isn’t bone strength, but muscle strength. It will most likely take him a few more months before he has the power to ride a 350kph MotoGP bike at his usual pace.

Team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) also fell at Turn Seven yesterday, during FP4, and today rode a conservative race to finish just behind Marquez, struggling to find grip after setting a fast pace in this morning’s warm-up session. This was the 29-year-old Spaniard’s second-best result of his first season with Honda as he continues to work to unlock the secrets of the RC213V.

During the early stages of the race he was just ahead of his team-mate, then they swapped positions, with Espargaro chasing Marquez from shortly before half-distance. Following a rider who knows the RC213V so well certainly helped Espargaro learn more about his machine; a process he will continue during tomorrow’s one-day official test at Jerez.

HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (Team Honda Honda RC213V) had a strong ride to 12th, hampered somewhat by arm-pump issues in the closing stages. Most importantly the 30-year-old German had a strong pace in practice and in today’s race which will allow HRC to continue development of its RC213V machines.

Marquez’s younger brother Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) had a day to forget, sliding out of the race on the very first lap. The former Moto3 and Moto2 World Champion had a great ride to eighth place in Portugal and had been hoping to build on that performance this weekend. However, it was not to be, so the 24-year-old Spaniard will regroup and rebuild in time for the next race in France, where last year he scored the first of two rookie-season podiums, with second place.

The French Grand Prix takes place at legendary French motorsport venue Le Mans on May 16. The MotoGP paddock then has another weekend off before back-to-back races at Mugello, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
I’m really happy about my performance during the race. I had a good start and from the beginning to the end I gave my best. We had a good pace – really consistent – and I’m happy about that myself, but we missed another podium chance, only by six tenths so I have mixed feelings. The team looked really happy and it was a good weekend – we were really consistent and P4 is a great result for me and the team. I’m really looking forward to the next race in Le Mans. We need to carry on like this, we’ve definitely found good pace.

Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
Of course today we would have liked to be further ahead but we should be happy. In Portimao we finished 13 seconds behind the leader and here only ten, this is the main target. Like in Portimao I felt strong in the middle of the race, but I lost some time at the start and the end of the race and overall I felt like we have made a big step compared to our last race. I can now understand more about the bike. Tonight we will decide if I will test tomorrow, it is important to do some laps if we can keep understanding everything with the team. It hasn’t been the best weekend in Jerez, but an important step and I want to say a big thank you to Honda and my team this weekend for their incredible work.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
It wasn’t a good race for us speaking honestly. We had much better pace in FP4 and in warm-up where I was feeling a lot good. The traction on the circuit was less than in the morning and I never really felt comfortable in my race pace, I was pushing and on the limit a lot. I finished just behind Marc, but it isn’t where I want to be. We get some points for tenth but 11 seconds away from first is too much. We have a full day of testing tomorrow which is going to be super-important for us to try some different options for the future.

Stefan Bradl 6
Repsol Honda Team
In the end we finished 12th which is alright, I am happy. Of course there are always some points which could have been better but overall I am very happy with the performance of the weekend, it has been very strong.  Maybe in the race I could have been smoother because I felt a little arm pump at the end but aside from this the race was okay. Thank you to HRC for making this happen and to my team. They’ve had a busy weekend but we have managed everything well. No big mistakes this weekend, more points and some good data collected has us pleased.

Alex Márquez
Alex Márquez 73
Not even one lap today. In the warm-up I think we made a step forward; we were a little bit better and we were in the top ten. I was looking forward to the race, to making a good start and a good first lap to recover some positions. But sadly, at turn eight a rider took me out and when I opened my eyes I was in the gravel! That was a shame and it was a difficult weekend, and also race. Tomorrow we have an important test so we’ll try to improve and be confident from the beginning.

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