MotoGP 2021
Round 15

Marquez Scores First Front-row Start of 2021

us Circuit Of The Americas

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) scored his first front-row start of 2021 with a stellar effort during qualifying at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Marquez Scores First Front-row Start of 2021

Not since last year’s Spanish Grand Prix has the six-time MotoGP World Champion started from the front row, and third place in today’s 15-minute Q2 shootout was just reward for a strong weekend of work, both on track and in the garage.

Marquez returned from a nine-month layoff through injury at April’s Portuguese GP, since when he has often struggled to get maximum performance from his machine during one-off qualifying laps. His right arm and shoulder are still not at 100%, which makes it difficult for him to be aggressive the bike when new, soft tires are fitted.

The 28-year-old Spaniard was just four tenths off pole position and believes he has a good chance of fighting for victory tomorrow. His pace in FP4 was formidable, and his record at this track is nothing short of magnificent: Marquez has won on six of his past seven visits to COTA, which features an anti-clockwise layout.

So far this year his record at anti-clockwise MotoGP tracks has been excellent – he won June’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring and finished a close second in last month’s Aragon GP.

However, COTA is proving extra challenging this weekend. The track has become very bumpy since MotoGP last visited in April 2019, transforming the layout into something of a rodeo ride and requiring immense physical input from riders.

It is testament to the strength of the RC213V in such tricky conditions Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) was able to qualify an excellent fifth quickest. The 29-year-old from Chiba was 0.511s off pole position and only 0.083s away from securing a place on the front row.

Nakagami has shown strong form all weekend, with his pace in FP3 particularly impressive. There is a chance the two-time Grand Prix winner could match, or improve upon, his best result of the season, which was a fourth place at Jerez back in May.

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) had a frustrating day, complicated by a low-speed tumble at Turn 12 in FP4. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion ended qualifying in 12th place, after misjudging the time remaining to complete the out-lap of his second run in qualifying. Thus he was unable to take advantage of his second tire and place further forward on the grid, but the 30-year-old Spaniard still holds hopes of a top-six finish tomorrow.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) found positives in his 15th place after a tough start to the weekend. The two-time World Champion crashed in FP2 and couldn’t find a comfortable setting in this morning’s FP3 session. But thanks to the stellar efforts of his LCR team, some useful set-up changes helped him feel more at home aboard his RC213V in FP4 and his target is a top-ten finish.

Tomorrow’s race will be MotoGP’s sixth in two months, so riders and teams will be looking forward to a two-week break before racing resumes at Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Misano on 23rd October.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
I am really happy with this front row because qualifying has been one of my weak points this season. With the first tyre I felt OK and with the second tyre I found some traffic and I was on top of the time sheets so there was not much reason to push a lot. It’s my first front row of the season, which is strange to say but that’s how it is! With the used tyre I feel better than on the new tyre, our race pace is quite good. We will try to make another step-in warm-up and continue this direction

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Our first run in qualifying wasn’t too bad, I was just assessing the bike after our crash and the feeling was there. In the second run, I misjudged the time I had left and I was in a group with Jack [Miller] and Marc so didn’t have a chance to push with the last tyre. I missed my chance in qualifying unfortunately. We still have a bit of feeling to find on the front end of the bike but this was not the limit in qualifying. It’s going to be a very long and very physical race tomorrow, all we can do is put our head down and make the most of what happens. Turn 1 will also be a critical point.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
Today, I’m quite happy with the result, P5 is good, the team are happy. They have done a great job throughout the weekend so far. We have good pace and starting from P5 means it’s easier to work out a strategy for the race. As always, I’ll try to give my maximum performance and we’ll try to fight to be on the top positions.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
So, the second day and in the morning it was really quite difficult, but this afternoon we made a good step forward with the set-up of the bike and I am feeling much better. I am improving step-by-step on the MotoGP bike, it is harder than I expected, but in qualifying we were close to Q2. We can’t be happy because we’re not in the position we want or we need to be, but we need to stay positive for tomorrow and keep taking steps forward.

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