Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) rode a heroic race to fourth, just one place off the podium, in today’s San Marino Grand Prix at Misano.
The 28-year-old Spaniard has had a tough weekend here, because the clockwise circuit places serious stress on his still-healing right arm and shoulder, so the 27-lap race was a huge physical challenge for him.
Nonetheless Marquez gave it everything he had and was able to perform better than he had hoped. He started from the third row of the grid and immediately fought his way into fourth place in the first few corners, then settled into a long battle with several other riders.
His last lap was an absolute thriller. He had been pushed down to sixth by Jack Miller and Joan Mir, but with two corners remaining he counter attacked and passed both to take the chequered flag in fourth.
This afternoon’s result followed a fantastic ride to second place in last weekend’s Aragon GP around the anti-clockwise MotorLand, where his injury was much less of a handicap.
Marquez’s next assignment is a two-day test here on Tuesday and Wednesday, when he will aim to further improve the performance of his RC213V and look towards improvements for the 2022 season.
Just four races remain of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship: the Grand Prix of the Americas at the Grand Prix of the Americas, the Emilia Romagna GP here at Misano, the Algarve GP at Circuit of the Algarve and the Valencia GP at Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) had good reason to be satisfied with his seventh-place finish, which followed a stunning qualifying performance yesterday afternoon, which put him on the second row of the grid, two races after he had scored his first Honda pole position at the British GP.
The 30-year-old Spaniard’s pace yesterday and today suggests that the Honda newcomer is further building momentum with his RC213V, during a season in which testing has been extremely limited, due to the global pandemic. Therefore next week’s two-day test here will be hugely important for him.
Like his team-mate, Espargaro had a busy race, contesting
positions with rivals throughout to finish more than two seconds ahead of his older brother Aleix and three seconds behind the group containing his team-mate, Miller and mir.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) completed the top ten in tenth place for the second race in succession. The 29-year-old from Chiba started the race from 13th place on the grid and was up to ninth at two-thirds distance, but in the final laps he lost that position to Brad Binder.
Nakagami showed some good speed during the weekend and felt good and confident about his RC213V but he wasn’t able to run a faster pace over full-race distance.
HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (Team Honda HRC Honda RC213V) had a fine ride to 14th, in his first MotoGP race since May’s Spanish GP. The 31-year-old German and former Moto2 World Champion came through from 20th on the first lap to score two points and gather plentiful data which will be analysed before he continues RC213V development work during the Misano tests.
Nakagami’s team-mate Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) took the final World Championship point in 15th. The 25-year-old Spaniard went into race day hoping to improve his speed through the final sector of the Misano circuit. He had qualified 19th and finished the first lap in 18th.
From there it was very difficult to fight his way through and it was a long race for the former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion, who finally moved into the points-scoring positions around half-distance.
MotoGP riders and teams now get one weekend off before heading out of Europe for the first time since the season-opening Qatar and Doha Grands Prix. The Circuit of the Americas is a popular venue, situated just outside the Texan city of Austin. It also runs anti-clockwise, which is why Marc Marquez has won six of the seven races staged there since the venue joined the MotoGP World Championship in 2013.