MotoGP 2021
Round 6

Marquez Is Top Honda Rider In Mugello Qualifying

it Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) continued his comeback from injury at Mugello today, qualifying 11th fastest for tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix.

Marquez Is Top Honda Rider In Mugello Qualifying

The 28-year-old Spaniard – who won the MotoGP race at this track in 2014 – is contesting his fourth Grand Prix following a nine-month layoff through injury. Although he has already scored two top-ten results and led a race, Marquez isn’t yet at 100% strength. His right arm and shoulder still need more muscle, which is causing him some issues on the motorcycle, so he cannot yet ride in the style that took him to six MotoGP World Championships over seven years.

Mugello is particular challenging because it’s so fast, with many high-speed direction changes, which demand huge strength from riders. Marquez was 12th at the end of the first three practice sessions, so he had to commence qualifying in this afternoon’s Q1 outing, which he topped. He then sat out half of Q2 to rest the arm and save some energy, joining the session halfway through.

Marquez’s best Q2 lap puts him 11th on the grid. He knows that the 23-lap race will be incredibly difficult, but he also knows that it’s important to keep riding to maintain his rehabilitation and build up muscles in the arm.

Team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) qualified 12th and will start the race alongside Marquez. The 29-year-old Spaniard, who stands tenth in the World Championship with three top-ten results so far, was ninth fastest in free practice, which took him directly into Q2.

Espargaro and his crew have made some important improvements to rear grip over the past two days, which made him confident of a good performance in Q2. However, he was unable to extract maximum performance from his RC213V because he chose the wrong front tyre for qualifying. He thought the hard option would be best in the warmer conditions, but the tyre was too hard, making the bike difficult to steer.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) will start the race from the row behind Marquez and Espargaro, after qualifying 15th fastest. The 29-year-old from Chiba was seventh fastest yesterday and would’ve been inside the top ten this morning, if his best lap hadn’t been cancelled for exceeding track limits. His pace here is good – he was an impressive third quickest in FP4 – but he didn’t have the one-off speed necessary in qualifying. He knows that a good start and a strong first few laps will be essential.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) qualified 22nd at the end of a difficult Saturday. The 24-year-old Spaniard and former Moto2 World Champion is making his MotoGP debut at Mugello, a hugely complex and demanding track on a MotoGP bike. He improved his pace this morning and was 12th fastest in FP4 but, like Nakagami, he didn’t have great qualifying speed.

Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
This morning I felt quite good and I was able to ride well but in the afternoon I started to struggle more with my physical condition. In Q1 I knew I had to follow someone because this was the only chance I had to do some quick laps and I was not expecting to make it into Q2 but the lap was good. I saw [Maverick] Vinales after the session and we spoke about it and I apologised. The stress and effort of these laps meant I couldn’t ride how I wanted to in Q2, but it was still a good day overall. I know I won’t be able to ride the race how I want but we will do what we can. But the main point of today is that hopefully Jason [Dupasquier, who is in hospital following a crash in Moto3 qualifying] is alright, we are all thinking about him.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Today was better than Friday but it is not what we are looking for. We were able to improve our rear grip a lot, which is very good because this is one area we have been working to improve. But I made a wrong decision with the front tyre, and it made the changes of direction very tough in qualifying. I was happy with the medium front in the morning, but I chose the hard because of the temperature and in hindsight I should have followed what we had done before but it’s my mistake. Maybe with a perfect lap we could have gained another row. Tomorrow is the race and it’s time to put everything out on track. My best wishes go out to Jason, I hope that he can come back soon.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
We are a little bit disappointed about our qualifying today because we definitely had good speed and good potential to have got through to Q2, but I had a small mistake in the last minutes and I was not able to put everything together. I’m sorry for my team, but the good thing in FP4 was that we had such good pace and the feeling on the bike was very good. Of course, we start from P15 which is not the best position, but we have good pace and a good bike. I’ll do my best. The most important thing is to try and make a good start. The beginning of the race will be the key point for me, so let’s do it and try to overtake as much as possible.

Alex Márquez
Alex Márquez 73
It wasn’t a good day because of the position but the feeling with the bike improved. In qualifying, we weren’t able to put together a good lap. I made two mistakes and I wasn’t fast enough. The positive thing is that in FP4 we were not bad and with a used tyre I was able to make a 47.5, so that was good. We need to keep working and looking forward all together as a team to build up good confidence.

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