MotoGP 2021
Round 14

Row Two for Espargaro, Row Three for Marquez at Misano

sm Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) achieved his second-best qualifying result of the year at Misano today, snatching a second-row start in the final moments of the 15-minute Q2 qualifying session.

Row Two for Espargaro, Row Three for Marquez at Misano

The man he knocked off row two was team-mate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who briefly led the session and will lead the third row of the grid tomorrow afternoon. Just 0.012 seconds separate the pair on the eve of the San Marino Grand Prix.

Espargaro’s final lap put him sixth fastest, eight tenths of a second off pole. Two races ago, at last month’s British Grand Prix, the 30-year-old Spaniard scored his first pole position aboard his RC213V and went on to lead the race.

Tomorrow he will do everything he can to get himself into the battle for a first podium finish with Honda, but he isn’t sure he has the pace to run that close to the front.

However, anything could happen in the 14th round of this year’s 18-race MotoGP World Championship, because latest weather forecasts predict rainfall at race time.

Marquez rode as hard as only he knows how today, despite pain and discomfort from his right arm and shoulder, which are still recovering from injury and subsequent surgeries last year. The arm and shoulder are a particular issue here at Misano, which features a series of four consecutive right-hand corners that demand so much from that side of the body.

The 28-year-old Spaniard slid off at low speed in free practice, then fell again in qualifying while chasing the pole-position man, searching for an even better grid position.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) fell in the Q1 session, while struggling to find a front-tyre compound that ideally suits him – the medium option is a bit too soft for his liking and the hard a bit too hard. He will start from 13th on the grid, most likely choosing the medium for the race, because it gives him more feeling when he’s attacking corners.

The 29-year-old from Chiba and his crew focused their attention on maximising the turning performance of their RC213V, because Misano features many tight corners and changes of direction.

HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (Team Honda HRC Honda RC213V) was the next best RC213V in 18th, making a wildcard appearance at the track where all teams will attend a two-day test session next week. The 31-year-old German is doing important development work for HRC here, working hard to find a good direction for the 2022 season.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) ended qualifying one place further back, only 0.037 seconds behind Brad. The 25-year-old Spaniard will therefore lead the seventh row of the grid.

The former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion made good progress in the FP4 session and was close to going through to the Q2 qualifier but his best lap was cancelled, due to yellow warning flags, displayed after another rider had fallen. His focus for the morning warm-up session will be improving his speed through the track’s final sector.

Just four races remain after tomorrow’s racing: the Grand Prix of the Americas, the Emilia Romagna GP here at Misano, the Algarve GP the Valencia GP.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
We had an interesting day and made the most of the dry track time today. We still have one or two things to confirm in warm-up but I am satisfied overall today. Sixth position is good but our distance to Bagnaia is a bit too big for my liking. Tomorrow will be a hard race because Ducati look to have something extra here, but I think we can fight behind them in the race. It can be very difficult to overtake here so starting on the second row is really important. Let’s make a good start, fight and see what’s possible – tomorrow is a new day.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
I’m happy about today because in free practice 3 we found ourselves struggling a lot. Q1 is always really difficult but with HRC we made a really nice strategy, so I want to say thank you to HRC and Bradl because he was the guy to open the track. In Q2 I pushed again and I was able to make a good lap, I’m happy because I have been struggling at this circuit a lot. We are not very far from the top considering this.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it through to Q2 this afternoon. The qualifying session was good, I had good pace and the feeling on the bike was better, we were able to make a big step and improve the bike and I was confident. But I had a mistake in the qualifying session (Q1) and had a crash at Turn 10 and that cost us quite a lot. We couldn’t make Q2 after that, but the positive thing is that the feeling on the bike is really, really good now, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race from P13. It wasn’t the result that I expected, but we have confidence on the bike, good pace for the race, so I’ll try my best and hopefully we can get a great result.

Stefan Bradl
Stefan Bradl 6
Honda HRC
Today was another positive day and I am pleased with the work we have done and the pace that I have been able to show. My team and I were able to help Honda with a few things and I am glad about this. This afternoon, and also tomorrow in the race, is all about enjoying riding and seeing what we can do. As everyone knows, the level in MotoGP is so high and everything is so close but I think we can have a good battle with some other riders. We also have the test on Tuesday and Wednesday which is the real focus for myself and the test team. Let’s keep the good weekend going.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
Second day here and we made a big improvement from yesterday in the dry in the morning. I still made some adjustments in the afternoon and in FP4 we did a really good job and I made another step forward and felt good. In quali (Q1) we were quite unlucky, I did a good lap time, a 32.4, and then later on I was going much faster – maybe not enough to get through to Q2, but close – and unfortunately there was a crash at turn 10 and a yellow flag, so that lap was cancelled. That was very unlucky, but that’s how it is sometimes and you have to accept it. So tomorrow I’m motivated to make a good start. In the morning we’ll try to improve in the final sector and then we’ll be ready for the race.

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