MotoGP 2021
Round 17

Espargaro and Alex Marquez On Second And Third Rows

pt Autódromo Internacional do Algarve

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 and Alex Marquez On Second And Third Rows

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.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Today showed the progress we have made this year with the bike, with me and with the team. I made a mistake at T1 during my fastest lap so maybe I could have found another tenth but otherwise I was feeling good on the bike, even after our crash in FP4. The front two rows are our target every weekend. When you’re here you can be there in the group in the race with a good start. I’m happy we’ve made this step, but we can be there. Still, we need to look a bit at what tyre to use in the race because there’s a lot of possible options here. 

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
It was a second good day. We kept up the aggression and I’m really happy with the work we’re doing here. We’re always improving and that’s the important thing, not just the qualifying result which was the best of my career in MotoGP, as I always struggle in qualy! My rhythm was really good and I felt good with the pace. We have to be realistic, we don’t have the pace to win, but we have the pace to do something interesting. I’ll look to make a good start, try and few things in the warm-up and be ready for the race. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and will try to enjoy the race. 

Stefan Bradl 6
Repsol Honda Team
Qualifying was OK. Of course I would have liked to be further ahead but in the end I am still missing something over one lap. This is probably the area where I see the biggest difference between myself and the other riders, pushing to get the most out of the tyre over one lap. In the end I think we have done and are doing a good job – the distance to the front is not very big because the times are so tight. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, the plan is to stay in the group and see what happens. 

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
Unfortunately, this afternoon was really tough, I had a crash in Q1 and we lost the opportunity to improve the lap time. It was a small mistake, but the cost was massive. Obviously, it was not the result we were expecting, but from the back of the grid I will try my best and will look to overtake some riders in the race. 

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