MotoGP 2021
Round 9

Nakagami Misses Assen Front Row By 0.198 Seconds

nl TT Circuit Assen

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) achieved his best qualifying performance of the year at Assen today, riding the fourth fastest lap to put him at the head of the second row for tomorrow’s Dutch TT, the ninth race of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

Nakagami Misses Assen Front Row By 0.198 Seconds

The 29-year-old from Chiba moved into third place with seconds remaining of the Q2 session, only to be knocked off the front row by a rival moments later, by just 0.198 seconds. Nonetheless he was happy with his performance, which made him the fastest Independent Team rider, winning him a place in parc fermé, alongside the front-row qualifiers.

Nakagami feels good on his RC213V this weekend and always goes well at Assen, one of MotoGP’s fastest circuits with arguably its most challenging layout. Five years ago he won the Moto2 race at the Dutch TT.

Honda’s other three MotoGP riders – Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol Honda RC213V) and six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) – were 11th, 16th and 20th in qualifying.

Espargaro had hopes of a much better performance after showing impressive speed in the first three practice sessions, which he finished third fastest, only three tenths off the fastest rider. The 30-year-old Spaniard used a revised chassis in his RC213V to achieve his best lap in FP3, making him confident of fighting for his best grid position with Honda.

Sadly, qualifying didn’t go the same way, because the former Moto2 World Champion didn’t choose the best front tyre compound for the session. Espargaro says he is still suffering from a “weakness of knowledge” following a lack of preseason testing, due to the global pandemic.

The younger Marquez was the faster of the Marquez brothers at Assen today, with the 16th best lap during qualifying. Lap times are very close as always, but much will depend on who chooses which tyres for the race. Although Assen has been completely resurfaced for 2021, so the asphalt offers a lot of grip, Marquez is still chasing more grip. The 25-year-old Spaniard will make his decision on tyres following tomorrow morning’s warm-up session.

The older Marquez arrived at Assen boosted by a remarkable victory in last Sunday’s German Grand Prix, his first since coming back from the injury that kept him out of racing for nine months. The 28-year-old Spaniard always said this weekend would be more challenging, because unlike Sachsenring this circuit runs clockwise, so it’s more difficult for his still-recovering right arm.

Marquez took a heavy tumble at turn 11 in yesterday’s FP2 session, bouncing back in this morning’s FP3 session, when he was only seven tenths off the fastest times. However, he wasn’t fast enough to go directly through to Q2, so he had to ride in Q1. He was on his best lap when he slid off at turn nine. He will therefore start the 2021 Dutch TT from the seventh row of the grid, with a lot of work to do in the 26-lap race.

Tomorrow’s race is the fourth in five weekends and precedes a five-week mid-season break. The MotoGP paddock reconvenes at Red Bull Ring for the back-to-back Styrian and Austrian Grands Prix on 8th and 15th August. The 2021 MotoGP season is due to conclude at Valencia, Spain, on 14th November.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
It’s a great result for us and personally I want to say thanks to my team, because it was difficult for a long time and now we’re back in parc fermé and it’s a nice feeling. The most important thing this weekend is that we have a good feeling on the bike and the confidence is there. P4 is a great result and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race. Hopefully I’ll bring home a great result.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Today we did not deliver in qualifying, we should have been on the front two rows at least. I made a mistake with the front tyre, I used the soft front twice and this was not the right thing to do. This is what happens when we have such a short pre-season and we aren’t able to make these mistakes during a test – we have to make them during a race weekend and put ourselves in this difficult situation. We have been flying all weekend, but now starting so far back it will be difficult tomorrow. Anyway, let’s see what happens on Sunday.

Alex Márquez
Alex Márquez 73
Second day here and for qualifying we made some good improvements on yesterday. In race pace we’re still missing a bit and it was not the best qualifying, although I gave it my everything. Again, I made a few mistakes and need to improve on the one lap, but we are not bad and are trying step by step to be there. If we can improve the grip tomorrow we can have a good race, I’ll give 100% and we’ll have to see what the rain forecast is. In general, I’m quite happy with the bike, we need to improve the rear grip, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow and being aggressive from the beginning.

Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
My body was feeling the crash of yesterday and it just made everything more difficult in the end. The morning started well, I felt good in FP3 and FP4 and then in qualifying the feeling with the first tyre wasn’t so good, but I felt better with the second. I couldn’t finish the lap, this can happen in qualifying when you are pushing, I lost the front and I fell. I wasn’t really riding how I wanted today. Tomorrow will be difficult; 20th is not our place at all. Starting this far back will be tricky but we will do what we can and learn as much as possible. I also have to thank Honda for their fast work. After yesterday they brought a solution to our traction control concerns today and it has helped – this is Honda.

Published on