Test 2
MotoGP 2022

Honda Riders Impress Aboard New RC213V

my Sepang International Circuit

MotoGP’s long-awaited return to action took place this weekend at Sepang International Circuit, where the entire grid took part in the first pre-season test of 2022.

Honda Riders Impress Aboard New RC213V

Riders and teams have just one more test – a three-day outing at Indonesia’s brand-new Mandalika Circuit, starting next Friday – before the 21-race MotoGP World Championship gets underway in Qatar on March 6.

These two test sessions in gruelling tropical conditions are especially important for Honda, which has created a heavily revised RC213V MotoGP bike for the new season.

All four Honda riders – Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) – are very happy with the rebalanced machine, which allows them to ride faster, more safely. This bodes well as Honda aims to break its own records of 21 premier-class Riders World Championships and 26 premier-class Constructors World Championships.

Marquez and Espargaro completed their Sepang weekend eighth and tenth quickest, their plans to push for quicker one-off lap times thwarted by a Sunday afternoon downpour, which soaked the track.

Nonetheless both riders are confident that they are moving in the right direction as they continue getting to know the new RC213V, which they tried for the first time, in its initial prototype form, during a brief test session at Misano, Italy, last September.

The new machine’s balance has been shifted to the rear, to extract the full potential of Michelin’s latest rear slick. The bike also features significantly different downforce aerodynamics to improve front grip. Marquez likes the fact that when he pushes hard the lap times immediately improve.

This is Marquez’s first ride on a MotoGP bike since last October’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, in which Honda’s six-times MotoGP king and Espargaro scored an unforgettable one-two finish. Following that race he was injured in an off-road riding tumble, requiring months of rest to recover from diplopia.

Despite more than four months out of MotoGP and a consequent lack of bike fitness, Marquez was immediately competitive here, running an impressive pace. His fastest lap was only two tenths of a second off the best time, a remarkable performance considering his condition.

At the end of today, when the track was still damp, Marquez was much faster than anyone else that ventured out.

This year’s World Championship will be the 28-year-old Spaniard’s tenth in the premier class, the last two which have been blighted by injury.

This was Espargaro’s third outing on the new RC213V, because the 2013 Moto2 World Champion was able to take part in last November’s post-season tests at Jerez, Spain. The 30-year-old Spaniard also feels a great deal of confidence in Honda’s latest MotoGP bike, which suits his more rear-oriented riding style, and he was also super-fast, less than a tenth of a second slower than Marquez.

LCR Honda team-mates Nakagami and Marquez also continued their adaption to the 2022 machine.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) believes the new RC213V has huge potential, which he will continue to unlock at the next test and at the first races of the 2022 season. The former Moto2 race winner, who celebrates his 30th birthday next Wednesday, has yet to score a MotoGP podium and is determined to change that this year.

The younger Marquez brother set some excellent race-pace laps during a race simulation this morning and his outright best lap was also impressive, less than half a second behind his big brother’s. The 25-year-old Spaniard and 2019 Moto2 World Champion had a superb rookie MotoGP season in 2020, with two podiums, but had a more challenging 2021 season. He believes the new machine will help him regain his best form.

The MotoGP paddock now heads to Mandalika for the first time, for a three-day test on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then riders and teams have less than three weeks to prepare for the season-opening Qatar GP at Losail.

Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
I am happy about these two days in Sepang, but also tired! It’s true that it is very positive for us to be here even if I suffered a little bit physically, but we suffer now to enjoy in the season. When I push with the bike, the speed is there, and we are learning a lot about this bike after trying some big things. The bike certainly has potential and today we understood the front feeling better after some changes we made. Pol and Alex were fast in the long ran which is encouraging. I did a few laps in the damp and felt good too.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
In general I’m pretty happy with how the test has gone, of course it would have been good to do a few more laps but the weather is what it is. We are close to the front with a new bike, and this is positive. There’s still some time to find over one fast lap and I made a small mistake on my fastest lap, but on the longer runs we are working well. It will be important to improve the one lap speed because we have seen how tight Saturdays are in MotoGP. We were able to gather good data here and now we have a bit of homework to do before the next test.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
We had a really good two-day test here in Sepang and I’m really happy with the step forward we’ve made. From yesterday we were able to improve our confidence on the bike and find a solution. This new bike has really great potential so I’m really happy about that. I want to say a big thanks to my team because these two days for the mechanics are really hard, but they did a great job. I’m really looking forward to the next test at Mandalika as it’s a new country and new circuit for us, so I’m really excited.

Alex Márquez
Alex Márquez 73
Second day here in Malaysia and I think we did a really good job overall. The most important thing for us at this test was to get to know the bike, do many laps and gather information for the future. We are getting to know the bike more and more and we’re not doing badly. There is still room for improvement, but the base is really good, in terms of set-up and performance. Today we were able to do nearly race distance with a simulation of 15 laps and the pace wasn’t bad, it was really constant. Unfortunately, the only thing we missed today was a time attack as, when I tried to make one, I had a really small crash, but the most important thing this weekend was the feeling. I want to thank my the team for all their work on these two days, now we go to Mandalika with a clear plan of what we need to improve.

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