One week after his superb German Grand Prix victory Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) finished seventh in today’s Dutch TT.
Although this wasn’t a great result for the six-times MotoGP World Champion and 57-times MotoGP race winner it was a great ride at the end of a very challenging weekend. Marquez had a heavy fall on Friday afternoon, which left him battered and bruised.
Despite that Marquez bravely decided to continue yesterday, but he was riding in real pain and could only manage 15th overall at the end of the first three practice sessions. That put him into the Q1 qualifying session and while trying to work his way through to Q2 he fell again, consigning him to 20th on the grid.
A stunning first couple of laps moved Marquez into tenth place and from there he gained several more places to take the chequered flag in seventh, 10.1 seconds behind the race winner. This was impressive, considering the fact that he completed the first two laps 2.5 seconds behind the leader, so he only lost three tenths per lap on the winner, despite his injuries.
Marquez and the rest of the MotoGP paddock now embark on a five-week mid-season break, which will be particularly important for the 28-year-old Spaniard, who is still working to regain full strength in the right arm he broke last July, requiring a nine-month absence from racing.
During the second half of the race Marquez battled with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V), who had made a rapid start from fourth on the grid, following his best qualifying performance of the year.
For much of the first half of the race Nakagami disputed second place, looking good to score the first podium of his premier-class career at the track where he took his first Grand Prix victory, in the 2016 Assen Moto2 race. The 29-year-old from Chiba was riding brilliantly, completing lap 13 of 26 in second position, but then he made a mistake, losing several positions. Within two laps he was relegated to ninth and could not move forward from there. He therefore ended the race in ninth, disappointed with his last 13 laps, but determined to be back up front again when racing resumes in August, with the Styrian and Austrian GPs on 8th and 15th August.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) showed some great speed in practice here, ending the first three sessions a close third fastest, only three tenths of a second off the best lap times.
However, the 30-year-old Spaniard is still learning his RC213V, following a pre-season testing programme truncated by the pandemic, and today he once again struggled in the early laps, when his fuel tank was full and he was riding with other riders. Those first few laps affected the remainder of his race and he was unable to do better than tenth place.
This weekend was the first time for Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) on a MotoGP bike at Assen, one of MotoGP’s most demanding and difficult circuits, with many secrets to find and unlock. Throughout practice and qualifying the 25-year-old Spaniard did his best to continually improve his pace, but today he didn’t feel confident enough to attack the top ten.
Like everyone else in MotoGP the younger Marquez is looking forward to the summer break, which will allow him to rest and recharge his batteries, ready for the second half of the 2021 season, which is due to conclude at Valencia, Spain, on 14th November.