MotoGP 2021
Round 13

Marquez Takes Brilliant Second Place in Aragon Thriller

es MotorLand Aragón

Today’s Aragon Grand Prix was a classic duel in the Spanish sun between Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati).

Marquez Takes Brilliant Second Place in Aragon Thriller

The pair ran such a rapid pace that they quickly left the rest of the pack far behind, fighting their own battle through the undulating twists and turns of the MotorLand circuit, outside the historic town of Alcaniz.

Marquez, who is still recovering from a right-arm injury sustained last year, was nevertheless in scintillating form, riding in Bagnaia’s wheel tracks for most of the 23 laps, then moving into attack mode in the final few laps.

However, both riders had chosen the same medium front/soft rear tyre options, so it was difficult for either to find a real advantage.

Marquez grabbed the lead from Bagnaia on numerous occasions, but the six-times MotoGP world champion was having to ride on the absolute edge to keep up and he was never able to keep his rival behind him for more than a few moments. On the last lap he tried one final attack at Turn 12 and ran wide, which allowed Bagnaia to take the chequered flag 0.673 seconds in front.

Nevertheless Marquez was happy with the result, because he had given his all and tried his best, so he will sleep well tonight. This was also his second-best result since he returned to action at April’s Portuguese GP, one place lower on the podium than his superb victory at June’s German Grand Prix.

The 28-year-old Spaniard’s determination throughout the race was a joy to behold – making time on Bagnaia wherever he could, cutting tighter lines to gain a few metres, but finally it wasn’t quite enough.

His record from Aragon is still impressive though – five victories from eight starts and he aims to be at 100% strength when he returns here next year.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) was Honda’s next finisher, taking tenth place at the end of an exciting race during which he had several battles with other riders, after starting from 11th on the grid.

This was the 29-year-old from Chiba’s 200th start Grand Prix start, making him the first Japanese rider to reach this impressive landmark. The result was his sixth top ten of 2021 so far

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) expected much after a brilliant British GP, where he started from pole position – for the first time on a Honda RC213V – led the race and finished a strong fifth.

However, Aragon proved to be less kind to the 30-year-old Spaniard, who has won Grands Prix victories here in the 125cc and Honda-powered Moto2 categories.

Although he started from the middle of the third row of the grid – in eighth place, having qualified less than nine tenths off pole – he was unable to sustain that kind of pace in today’s race.

He struggled with grip issues in the heat – track temperature was 48 degrees – and had dropped back to 13th by lap four, in the thick of a close mid-field pack. For the rest of the race he fought back and forth with last year’s Aragon GP winner Alex Rins (Suzuki).

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) had a day to forget at Aragon – less than two hours from his hometown of Cervera. The 25-year-old former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion qualified 14th but was more confident in his race pace. However, he didn’t get the chance to prove himself, because he slid off on the first lap.

Several riders collided in front of him, Nakagami braked to avoid the collision and the younger Marquez touched his team-mate’s rear tyre while trying to escape the confusion. That contact caused him to fall and he was unable to restart.

The MotoGP paddock now crosses much of southern Europe once again, for next weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix at Misano.

The final version of the 2021 calendar was published yesterday, confirming four races remaining after Misano: The Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas on 3rd October, the Emilia Romagna e Made in Italy Grand Prix at Misano on 24th October, the Algarve Grand Prix at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on 7th November and finally the Comunitat Valenciana GP at Circuit Ricardo Tormo on 14th November.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
I pushed hard all race but on the last three laps I really tried everything. Sometimes when you try like this you make a mistake, you crash and the result isn’t good. But I still tried and I think everyone watching it enjoyed a lot! I knew it would be really difficult, fighting against the Ducati is hard because they brake very late and accelerate very well plus today, Pecco(Bagnaia) was riding in a perfect way. It was a great battle with him, I enjoyed it a lot. After two crashes in a row, it’s not easy to give everything and put it on the line like in this race. In Turn 1 on the last lap I couldn’t stop well and I couldn’t make it happen at Turn 5 either. My last chance was Turn 12 but as soon as I went to the dirty part of the track, I knew it would be impossible and I ran wide I’m happy because we were able to fight and our race pace was fast and also because this race provides extra motivation to me, to HRC and everyone in the box. Thanks to everyone for their hard work.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
We finished P10, the race was so tough, really difficult conditions, as it was so warm. During the race, I was behind [Enea] Bastianini (Ducati) for a long time and it was difficult to manage front-tyre performance. But I tried my best during the race and over the last four laps we had a chance to finish P8, it was very close with Fabio [Quartararo] (Yamaha) and Jorge Martin (Ducati), but I wasn’t close enough and didn’t have a chance to attack or try to overtake. Anyway, we ended up P10, which is not the best result, but we had some positive feelings this weekend and we’ll keep working hard. We’re looking forward to the next one in Misano which is really important as it’s a home GP for the team and I’m excited to go there.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
I wasn’t fast today, I did not have a good feeling with the bike in the hotter conditions and I struggled from the start. I was unable to ride as I wanted and I lost too many places at the start, there were points in the race where I felt better and I was able to make up some ground, but the group ahead had been lost. With just a little more grip I can really ride the bike with my style as I want, but when the conditions are like this I can’t ride the bike like I want to. Now we get ready for Misano where probably the conditions will be similar, so we have to keep working to see what’s possible and how to improve. Marc shows that the bike can be strong in these conditions, I just need more time on the bike to understand what to do.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
It was unfortunate today. We made some steps during warm-up when I was feeling ok. In the race, on the first lap, somebody in front of me had a touch and, ahead of me, I had Taka who braked to avoid the contact, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to avoid contact with him and his rear tyre. It was completely my fault and I’m sorry to the team, they did an amazing job today to give me the best bike for the race, so I’m sad for that. The positive thing is that in three or four days I’ll be back on the bike. I’ll to try to forget this weekend because, overall, it’s not been easy. We look forward to Misano where we’ll try harder.

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