Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and his team enjoyed a superb weekend at Silverstone, starting from pole position, leading the early stages of the race and finally crossing the line in fifth place, his best result aboard an RC213V.
The day didn’t go so well for team-mate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who bounced back from a 274kmh/170mph crash on Friday to achieve a superb second-row start. He got away well in the race, but a first-lap tangle with a rival caused him to fall and he was unable to re-start.
Espargaro’s excellent weekend suggests the 30-year-old Spaniard has made something of a breakthrough in his adaption to the RC213V, which he rode for the first time in February. Also, the cool British weather helped him perform at his best by offering more grip, so he could brake deeper into corners and accelerate more strongly on the exits.
The former Honda-powered Moto2 World Champion got a superb start from pole and showed his impressive speed around MotoGP’s longest circuit, which demands everything from rider and machine. Espargaro stayed out front for four laps, then battled with his older brother Aleix for second.
The younger Espargaro was still in the podium fight at half-distance, but a couple of near misses in the second half of the 20-lap race forced him to accept fifth place. Nonetheless he learned a huge amount from this weekend, which he will use to strengthen his performances as the MotoGP World Championship returns to mainland Europe, with the next race at Aragon, Spain, a circuit that suits Honda’s RC213V very well.
Marquez’s super-short race was a huge disappointment for the six-times MotoGP World Champion who has been working so hard on his comeback, since returning from injury at April’s Portuguese Grand Prix, following a nine-month layoff with a right-arm injury.
The 28-year-old Spaniard’s mental and physical fortitude were hugely tested this weekend, following his high-speed accident at the end of Friday morning’s FP1 session. The Turn-Two fall had him tumbling for hundreds of metres and he later required a visit to hospital to check his right eye, which had been hurt by dirt entering inside his helmet.
His speed yesterday, despite some pain and discomfort, was remarkable: fifth in qualifying, less than two tenths slower than his team-mate. And he looked set for a strong race today. However, on the first lap he attempted an optimistic pass on Jorge Martin, causing both to fall at slow speed. Marquez later apologised to Martin for the incident.
Like his team-mate, Marquez now looks forward to Aragon, where he won the race five times on his last seven visits.
Brother Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) had an excellent race today, recovering from a complicated qualifying session that left him 17th on the grid. The 25-year-old Spaniard made an awesome start, racing through to 11th at the end of the first lap and then continued his forward progress, often closing significant gaps to the next rider.
By two-thirds distance the former Moto3 and Moto2 World Champion had moved up to seventh, only losing that position on the final lap. He finally took an eighth-place finish, less than two seconds behind sixth. It was his best result since he took sixth at May’s French GP.
Last year the younger Marquez finished a superb second at Aragon, so like his fellow RC213V riders he cannot wait to start riding there.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) endured a very difficult Sunday, struggling with an upset stomach that sapped his energy. Nevertheless the 29-year-old from Chiba took the start, but struggled throughout with grip issues. He rode to 13th place, an admirable result considering his physical condition and lack of grip.
Last year Nakagami took his first MotoGP pole position at Aragon, so all four Honda riders are happy to be heading there after today’s racing. The Aragon Grand Prix on 12th September is followed by the San Marino GP the following Sunday.