MotoGP 2021
Round 16

Espargaro and Marquez To Fight From Rows Two And Three

sm Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli

Cold and damp autumnal weather dominated today’s qualifying sessions at the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna, with many riders struggling to find grip in the treacherous conditions.

Espargaro and Marquez To Fight From Rows Two And Three

Misano runs clockwise, so in cool, damp conditions it’s very difficult for riders to get enough heat into the left side of their slick tyres for the circuit’s few left-handers.

With four minutes remaining of the Q2 session Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) were both in line for front-row starts, but as the pace increased in the final moments positions changed and there were many fallers.

Espargaro improved his pace on his penultimate lap, going fourth quickest to the lead the second row of the grid. The 30-year-old Spaniard missed his first front row since he started August’s British GP from pole position by less than two tenths of a second.

Tomorrow will add further complexity to the weekend, because the weather is predicted to be dry, after two days during which every session was either wet or damp. Therefore morning warm-up will most likely be the first fully dry session, with just 20 minutes for riders and teams to work on their dry-weather settings.

Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion Marquez was also shooting to retain a good grid position in the final moments of Q2 until he slid off at the Turn Six left-hander, ending his hopes of a second consecutive front-row start aboard his RC213V. The 28-year-old Spaniard ended the 15-minute outing seventh and will therefore start tomorrow’s race from seventh, leading the third row.

Marquez won last time out - the Grand Prix of the Americas earlier this month - and will do everything in his power to return to the podium here, but the circuit layout, with three consecutive high-speed rights, is particularly tough for his right arm and shoulder, which are still not back to full strength following a crash at Jerez, Spain, last July.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol Honda RC213V) rode well this afternoon, battling hard through the Q1 session to gain promotion to the Q2 qualifier. He was many times within the top two positions - the first two riders from Q1 go through to Q2 - but finally missed out by only three tenths of a second.

The 25-year-old Spaniard will therefore start from the fifth row of the grid, in 14th position. His aim will be to get a good start, fight well in the opening laps and set his eyes on a top-ten result.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu Honda RC213V) found the ever-changing weather and track conditions particularly difficult as he searched for grip around the 4.2km/2.63-mile circuit, situated barely a kilometre inland from the Adriatic coast.

The 29-year-old from Chiba, who failed to score points in the USA three weeks ago, following a minor tumble in the early laps of the race, will aim to return to the top ten. Last time out at Misano five weeks ago he finished the race in tenth place.

Tomorrow’s race is the 16th of this year’s 18 races. The last two rounds are next month’s Algarve and Valencia Grands Prix, which take place on 7 and 14 November.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
The conditions today were super tricky. In the morning in the wet I was really struggling to put one whole lap together and I really had to risk a lot to get into Q2. But for sure it was good to achieve this, it was a weight off my shoulders. All today we saw how tough it was and Q1 was even worse. I was quite confident going into Q2 because I knew in the dry I was ahead of a lot of riders, even if the conditions were still difficult. If you went just a tiny bit wide the track was wet, it was tough but I am really happy. The first two rows are very important here with the tight first sector so I am pleased. Tomorrow the plan is to push right from the start because there is a lot of competition around us.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
If we look at the final time sheets, today wasn’t a bad day as seventh place is more or less our position here, like Misano 1. But it’s true that I wasn’t able to take profit from the situation and I couldn’t perform how I wanted to. In Q2 I already had a big warning in the first lap and then I did an OK lap but when I tried to push for something more the feeling wasn’t there. In the past I enjoyed saving crashes, but the save I made today was not as fun as the position was a lot more extreme and it caused me to lose some confidence. On the last lap I said ‘OK, maybe I crash’ and I crashed. For tomorrow it’s looking like more normal conditions so I think we can put together a good race but maybe the podium is one step too far at the moment.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
The second day here and unfortunately in the wet this morning we didn’t improve so we didn’t make it into Q2 which was the target. We didn’t improve as expected from Friday. In FP4 and especially Q1 we didn’t do a good job and it was really tricky to give 100% because we were using slicks and there was only a very narrow dry line. Anyway I gave 100% and I’m at least satisfied with the work we did. Tomorrow we need to get a good start, be competitive and be ready for everything. It looks like the weather will be dry - we have good settings from the tests after the last race here, so we will try to make a good race.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
Really tricky conditions here this weekend. This afternoon FP4 and the Q1 qualifier were really difficult, especially the beginning of Q1 when there was more wet track in sector 4. At the end of Q1 I was coming better lap by lap, so we improved the lap time, but not enough to stay in the top two to get into Q2. Also there were so many yellow flags, which made it difficult to concentrate. It’s not the grid position we expected, but tomorrow is another day - I will try to my best and hopefully we can have a good race - we will never give up.

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