MotoGP 2021
Round 7

Tumble Costs Espargaro Second-Row Start at Barcelona

es-ct Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s Catalan Grand Prix from 12th and 13th on the grid after a challenging day at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit.

Tumble Costs Espargaro Second-Row Start at Barcelona

Espargaro was on course for a place on the second row of the grid when he slid off his RC213V four corners from the chequered flag in the closing stages of the Q2 session.

The two locals – Espargaro was born within earshot of the circuit and Marquez lives an 80-minute ride away – are working hard to extract the maximum from their RC213V machines around this very slippery circuit.

Marquez went well in the FP4 race-pace session, producing the sixth fastest lap, two places in front of his team-mate.

After FP4 the pair commenced qualifying in the opening Q1 session, aiming to finish the 15-minute outing inside the top two to graduate into Q2. Both men employed the same strategy, chasing a rival with the aim of bettering their own lap times. Marquez took position behind Australian rider Jack Miller, while Espargaro slotted in behind both of them. The tactic worked better for Espargaro, who finished second to Miller in the session, while Marquez missing promotion to Q2 by just 0.011 seconds.

Espargaro rode brilliantly in Q2, riding the fastest Sector Three time on his way to what should have been a second-row start, only to slide off at Turn Ten on his fastest lap. The tumble was a huge disappointment for the 29-year-old Spaniard, who looked set for his best qualifying performance of the year so far.

Marquez is still very much compromised by his right-arm injury, which kept him out of MotoGP for nine months, before his comeback in Portugal in April. He is currently unable to use his usually aggressive riding technique in right-hand corners, most crucially Turns Three, Four, 13 and 14 here, which are all vital to a good lap time.

Marquez fully understands his current physical circumstances. He knows he has to accept the fact that he isn’t able to ride at his usual speed, so he has to be patient, working at rebuilding the muscles in his right arm until he is strong enough to ride in the way that brought him and Honda six MotoGP World Championships in seven years.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) finished fourth in Q1, right behind Espargaro and Marquez, so he will start the race from 14th, alongside Marquez. Like many riders here the 29-year-old from Chiba is struggling with a lack of grip which creates a huge challenge for riders of incredibly powerful MotoGP machines.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) is working to regain confidence after a difficult few races. The 24-year-old Spaniard ended qualifying 20th today and will focus on delivering a better race pace tomorrow, the seventh race of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

After tomorrow’s race – which starts at the earlier-than-usual time of 13:00 local time – riders and teams remain at the circuit for a one-day test on Monday. The 2021 season continues with the German Grand Prix on 20 June and the Dutch TT on 27 June.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Q1 today was good, we advanced into Q2. In Q2 I was pushing really hard and on the limit, probably over it. The time was good, it looked like a 1’39.1, like I did in Q1 which could have seen us in the first two rows. I had some front locking when the asphalt changed at Turn 10 and I crashed, a real pity. Most of the track was done and we did it well, but if you don’t finish it doesn’t matter what you do. It is what it is. I think the race will again be difficult, but we keep on working and seeing what’s possible. The change of time to before the Moto2 race will change the situation a bit.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
Starting 13th is not really any different to starting in 11th or 12th, so I am not too upset about missing Q2. I was joking with [Jack] Miller yesterday in the Clinica about a tow and today he was the fastest in the session, so it was the time to go for it. We’ll decide the price later! Tomorrow we need to make a good start and see what’s possible from the race. Times are very close so we will see. We keep on working in our own way to improve our situation.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
It has been a difficult qualifying session. During the FP4 session we tried the hard compound tyres for the first time, and still we are not 100% decided about our race tyre. The hard looks okay, but we are still lacking some side grip and depending on the conditions tomorrow we have to choose between that and the medium tyre. Both options are quite good for us. The lap times in qualifying were really tight, and I thought I could get through to Q2, but in the end Jack Miller led two other riders through to improve on my lap time and I ended up in P14 for tomorrow’s race. It’s really tough but we have a good pace. In tomorrow’s race tyre life is particularly important, which is one of our strong points. We just need to try to be consistent and not give up until the end, I’m hopeful of a good race tomorrow.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
It’s honestly been a difficult day. After yesterday we expected to have fewer problems and to be up there, but again today we began to have the same issues with the rear grip. This made it tough in terms of race pace but also in terms of the one-lap pace. I want to say sorry to the team because I made a mistake in Turn One and I lost a couple of tenths there, but it didn’t change our story too much. We need to build up more confidence for tomorrow with the rear grip and try to be there, it’s going to be difficult to fight against that. We will try to give our 110% again, make the best race we can and then take as much information as possible for Monday’s test. I promise to give everything I have for the LCR Honda CASTROL Team and all our sponsors and supporters.

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