The 2021 MotoGP World Championship moves into its final stages with back-to-back Grands Prix at Aragon and San Marino over the next two weekends, when Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and his fellow RC213V riders aim to continue the upward trend of their performances.
After this double-header just four races remain.
Honda has a particularly fine record at the MotorLand circuit, where the RC213V has won six of the ten 1000cc MotoGP races staged at the track, situated outside the ancient town of Alcaniz in the region of Aragon.
Marquez won the 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Aragon MotoGP races aboard his RC213V and the Honda-powered Moto2 race in 2011. He missed last year’s two races at the track (the Aragon and Teruel GPs) due to the fractured right arm he sustained at Jerez last July, which kept him out of racing until this year’s Portuguese GP in April.
The 28-year-old Spaniard has already been victorious since that return – he won June’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, an anti-clockwise circuit where he’s unbeaten since 2009! The Aragon layout is also anti-clockwise, although with its ten left-handers and seven rights it is less asymmetric than Sachsenring, with its ten lefts and three rights.
Marquez has always had a special affinity for left-hand corners and can’t wait to get going at Aragon. Anti-clockwise circuits are also easier for him at the moment, because his right arm and shoulder have yet to regain 100% strength, so he’s more competitive when turning left.
Last time out at last month’s British GP Marquez qualified less than two tenths of a second off pole position and had a great chance of another podium result until he slid off on the first lap after contact with another rider.
Team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) is also keen to get going at MotorLand following his best weekend of the year so far at Silverstone. The 30-year-old Spaniard was in stunning form around the super-fast and challenging circuit, taking his first pole position aboard an RC213V, leading the race and finally finishing fifth, only eight seconds behind the winner.
Espargaro also knows the fast way around Aragon. During his early days in Grand Prix racing he won the 2010 Aragon 125cc GP at the track and the 2021 Moto2 race, in which he beat long-time rival Marquez by 1.447 seconds. His aim this weekend is to better his best MotoGP result at the track, a sixth-place finish in 2014.
The Aragon event is a kind of second home race for both Repsol Honda Team riders – Marquez lives in Cervera, a two-hour ride from the track, and Espargaro was born just outside Barcelona, three hours away.
Team-mates Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) have also proved the exceptional abilities of the RC213V around Aragon’s undulating twists and turns.
Last year Nakagami and his RC213V started the Teruel GP from pole position while Marquez and his RC213V finished a brilliant second in the Aragon GP, just two tenths of a second behind the race winner.
Sadly, Nakagami’s first MotoGP pole was followed by a first-lap tumble, but he had also proved his MotorLand speed the previous weekend, when he finished fifth in the Aragon GP, less than two seconds behind the top three. This weekend the 29-year-old from Chiba will once again be chasing his first MotoGP podium.
The younger Marquez has always been fast at Aragon and has already stood on the podium at the track on no less than four occasions. He finished third in the 2019 Moto2 race, second in 2016 Moto2 race, second in the 2014 Moto3 race and third in the 2013 Moto3 race. Two of those results helped him to his two World Championships – the 2019 Moto2 crown and the 2014 Moto3 title.
At Silverstone the 25-year-old Spaniard had a strong race to eighth, from 17th on the grid, less than ten seconds outside of a podium finish. On Sunday he will do everything in his power to repeat his MotoGP podium from last October.
MotorLand Aragon is one of the more recent introductions to the MotoGP World Championship. The venue hosted its first Grand Prix in September 2010 and quickly became a favourite with riders because it’s a rollercoaster of a circuit that runs up and down a hill, with significant changes of elevation and a real mix of fast and slow and positive- and negative-camber corners. The track also features one of MotoGP’s longest straights – at 0.968m/0.6 miles – where the fastest RC213V reached 348.4kph/216.5mph.
Following Sunday’s racing the paddock packs up and undertakes the 1500km/930-mile drive to Misano, where practice for next weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix starts on Friday morning.
After that the paddock takes off for its first flyaway event since the Qatar and Doha GPs, for the Grand Prix of the Americas, in Texas, USA, on 23rd October. The 2021 MotoGP season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on 14th November.