Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s penultimate MotoGP race of the year from the second row of the grid after a strong qualifying performance at the Algarve Grand Prix.
Espargaro, contesting his first season with Honda, has been getting stronger and stronger at recent races as he gets to know his RC213V better and better.
The 30-year-old Spaniard scored his first pole position with the RC213V at August’s British Grand Prix and his first podium with the bike at last month’s Emilia-Romagna GP, where he chased home Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) to give the Repsol Honda Team a very well-deserved one-two finish.
Today he was sixth fastest, just three tenth slower than pole position, his best qualifying performance since his Silverstone pole, despite a crash in the early stages of the earlier FP4 session, only an hour before qualifying.
Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion and winner of the last two races Marquez isn’t here because he sustained a slight head concussion in a training accident last weekend. Marquez’s doctors decided the 28-year-old Spaniard should remain at home, as a precautionary measure.
His place has been taken by Honda’s MotoGP test-rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who also substituted for Marquez in last November’s 2020 Portuguese GP at this circuit, which he finished an excellent seventh.
Today the 31-year-old German and former Moto2 World Champion qualified 20th quickest.
Today was a wonderful day for Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V), who achieved his best MotoGP grid position since he graduated to the premier class last year.
The 25-year-old Spaniard – 2014 Moto3 World Champion with Honda and winner of the 2019 Honda-powered Moto2 World Championship – qualified eighth fastest, less than half a second off pole around this hugely challenging rollercoaster of a circuit. His previous best MotoGP grid slot was tenth at last year’s Teruel Grand Prix at MotorLand Aragon.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) rode a great FP3 session this morning, missing out on going directly into the Q2 qualifying session by just five thousandths of a second.
His aim was therefore to use the Q1 session to promote himself to the Q2 qualifier. However, his hopes were dashed when he began his final time attack with just a few minutes remaining of Q1, when he slid off. Nakagami will therefore start the race from 22nd on the grid.
Tomorrow’s Algarve GP is the 17th round of this year’s 18-round MotoGP series. The 2021 season comes to an end next weekend at the Valencia GP in Spain. However, that is not the end of the action – riders and teams will commence testing for the 2022 at Jerez, Spain, just a few days later.