Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) rode a stunningly fast qualifying session aboard his RC213V at Silverstone today to achieve his first pole position with Honda.
Meanwhile team-mate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) was less than two tenths of a second off pole and only 0.161 seconds away from a front-row, putting Honda's six-times MotoGP World Champion in the middle of the second row for tomorrow's British Grand Prix.
First and fifth fastest is the Repsol Honda Team's best joint qualifying performance of 2021, although this isn't the first time that Espargaro has scored a Silverstone pole position with Honda power. In 2012 he started the Honda CBR600-powered Moto2 race from pole, going on to win the race.
Espargaro hasn't had the easiest of starts to his first season with Honda and came here from two difficult races in Austria, but this afternoon's performance suggests something of the breakthrough for the hugely determined 30-year-old Spaniard, who excels around this super-challenging, high-speed circuit.
Today's weather conditions were cool and cloudy, which Espargaro admitted were an advantage. He is able to find better grip from a cooler track, with allows him to enter and exit corners faster, using the extra grip to use the rear brake deep into corners and apply throttle at high lean angles.
Marquez once again proved his remarkable bravery and resilience, following a very fast crash towards the end of yesterday morning's FP1 session. The 28-year-old Spaniard fell entering Turn Two at 274kmh/170mph. Although battered and bruised he suffered no serious injuries, largely thanks to the impressive protection offered by modern riding equipment. He later received treatment for a minor eye issue caused by dirt getting inside his helmet as he tumbled through the trackside grass.
Marquez, who finished a close second here in 2019, the last British GP, made a hugely impressive recovery today, completing FP3 tenth fastest and then improving to fourth in FP4. In qualifying he battled for a front-row start, missing out by a fraction of a second.
The 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 MotoGP king will continue to receive physiotherapy in the lead up to the race, to make sure he's in the best possible shape for 20 laps of one of MotoGP's most demanding layouts.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) will start the race from the fifth row of the grid after struggling to find the speed he needs around this complex circuit.
The 29-year-old from Chiba's target had been to better his 12th fastest performance from the opening three practice sessions. However, it wasn't to be, partly through no fault of his own because perhaps his best lap was ruined when another rider fell ahead of him, bringing out the yellow warning flags, which forced him to slow down and lose that lap.
Team-mate Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) had two tumbles yesterday in the cool conditions that have caught out several riders – including his older brother – with cold tyres. Those crashes dented the confidence of the 25-year-old Spaniard, who came here on a high following two strong results at Austria's Red Bull Ring.
In this afternoon's qualifying sessions the younger Marquez secured a sixth-row start, with his best lap just a fraction of a second slower than Nakagami's. This is his first visit to Silverstone aboard a MotoGP bike, so he has had plenty to learn and will continue learning during tomorrow's race.
Tomorrow's MotoGP race will start one hour earlier than the usual local time: 13:00 instead of 14:00, to give the race its usual starting time in Europe and elsewhere. After the race is over the paddock will pack up and return to mainland Europe for the Aragon and San Marino GPs on 12th and 19th September.