Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) continued his recovery from a long layoff through injury by qualifying fifth fastest for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, his best qualifying performance since his comeback five races ago.
Marquez’s team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) also rode well today, putting himself on the third row of the grid, alongside Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V). And Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) achieved a fourth-row start, his best so far this year.
Sachsenring is a special place for the older Marquez brother, who hasn’t been beaten across three different categories at the tortuous anti-clockwise circuit since 2009, a unique achievement in the history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing. The 28-year-old Spaniard has always loved left-handed corners, so this layout is perfect him, especially at the moment because the right arm he fractured last year isn’t yet at full strength, which can cause him issues in right-handers.
Marquez was just three tenths of a second off pole position this afternoon and might have got closer but for a chaotic final few minutes in Q2, with yellow flags displayed following a few tumbles. His ambition for the race is to take his best result since his comeback.
Super-hot weather – with ambient temperatures over 30 degrees and track temperatures nudging 50 degrees – has made the going tough in Germany this weekend. Like many riders Espargaro has had a torrid two days of free practice here, with three tumbles, but the 30-year-old Spaniard fought back impressively in qualifying, going through from Q1 to Q2 and ending the day eighth quickest to equal his best grid position of 2021. Tomorrow he aims to better his best race results of 2021 – eighth places at the Qatar and French GPs.
Nakagami had high hopes of achieving a second-row start after completing the first three free practice sessions seventh quickest, only two tenths of a second off the fastest times. The 29-year-old from Chiba was unable to improve his best time after sliding off unhurt in the attempt.
Lap times are always very, very close at Sachsenring, MotoGP’s shortest circuit, so Nakagami was barely two tenths off the second row. The start of the race will be critical, because it’s not easy to overtake here, so Nakagami will need to make a perfect getaway from the grid to get into the first corner in a good position.
The younger Marquez brother was delighted to go straight through to Q2 for the first time in 2021. The 25-year-old Spaniard has had a challenging start to his second season in MotoGP, but feels more at home here, where the RC213V has won every race since its launch in 2012. And before that Honda’s previous MotoGP machine – the RC212V – won the previous two races. However, he was baulked by a slower rider during what could have been his fastest lap, so he will start from 12th position, his best lap time only nine tenths of a second slower than pole position.
After tomorrow’s German GP the MotoGP paddock packs up and immediately heads west for next weekend’s Dutch TT at Assen, the fourth MotoGP round in five weeks. After that riders and teams get to enjoy a five-week summer break before back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring, the Styrian GP on 8th August and the Austrian GP on 15th August.