Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s Styrian Grand Prix from the third row of the grid, after his final charge in today’s qualifying session ended with a minor tumble at Turn Three.
Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion has been on the pace throughout the weekend, which commences the second part of the 2021 campaign, following a five-week mid-season break.
The 28-year-old Spaniard was less than half a second off the pace in free practice and in qualifying, so he knows he has a chance of racing with the leading pack, if he can get away well. Marquez has never won here, but he has scored three second places in his last three visits.
Red Bull Ring is MotoGP’s fastest racetrack. It is also arguably MotoGP’s most picturesque venue, nestled in verdant pastureland beneath spectacular Styrian Alpine peaks, and is renowned for producing breathtaking battles for victory.
Marquez’s final qualifying run was his best and he started his last lap of the session in stunning style, setting the fastest time for the first sector, but he was really pushing the limit and tucked the front as he attacked the third corner. He walked away from the low-speed fall.
During the past two days Marquez has been trying two different chassis, including the latest revision introduced at the last race at Assen. He has been focusing on this chassis, to give development feedback to HRC.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) has also shown great performance over the last two days. The 29-year-old from Chiba ended yesterday fastest, an impressive return following such a long time off a MotoGP bike. Today he completed qualifying tenth quickest.
Last year Nakagami twice battled for victory at Red Bull Ring in the Austrian and Styrian GPs and he has a chance to do the same again, even though he was disappointed with his grid position.
However, the biggest question mark for tomorrow is the weather. The latest forecasts suggest heavy rain and thunderstorms throughout much of the day, which could disrupt the schedule.
Nakagami will line up on the grid for the tenth round of the 19-round 2021 MotoGP series alongside fellow RC213V rider Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V).
The younger Marquez brother made a great return from MotoGP’s summer break with an excellent ride in Q1. He was fastest in the 15-minute session, winning him promotion to the Q2 outing for the second time this season. The 25-year-old Spaniard will start from 12th, aiming for a fast, consistent ride that will boost his confidence following a challenging start to his second season in the premier class.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) showed decent pace in the first three practice sessions, circulating Red Bull Ring only six tenths of a second slower than the fastest riders, but once again he was unable to reproduce that performance in qualifying.
The 30-year-old Spaniard is still working to adjust himself and his RC213V to get the absolute maximum from his rear tyre during the one or two laps required for a competitive qualifying lap. He was 15th fastest, so he will have a lot of work to do in the early laps if he’s to get with a fast group. In fact he is one of the riders looking forward to some inclement weather, which may help him achieve a better result.
The MotoGP paddock will remain at Red Bull Ring following tomorrow’s racing and prepare for next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix at the same track. Then the paddock heads northwest for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 29th August.