MotoGP 2022
Round 8

Nakagami and Espargaro on Mugello third row, Marquez announces new surgery

it Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) scored third-row starts during Italian Grand Prix qualifying at Mugello today.

Nakagami and Espargaro on Mugello third row, Marquez announces new surgery

The 30-year-old from Chiba, Japan, and the 30-year-old Spaniard were both inside the top ten at the end of the first three practice sessions, so they won automatic promotion to the Q2 qualifier, concluding the 15-minute session eighth and ninth, both of them very close to pole position. Nakagami was just four tenths of a second off pole, Espargaro just five tenths off.

Both riders feel confident for tomorrow’s race around this fast, spectacular circuit, nestled among verdant hills close to the ancient city of Florence. Latest weather forecasts suggest that the race will be held in dry weather, although considerably cooler than today and yesterday. Much will therefore depend on tyre choice, with only 20 minutes of morning warm-up to evaluate tyres in the cooler conditions.

As usual, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) eased into the weekend, saving the best of his still-healing right arm and shoulder for qualifying and the race. He therefore finished free practice outside the top ten and therefore had to contest Q1, aiming to finish the session inside the top two to gain promotion to Q2

FP1, FP2 and FP3 had taken place in hot and sunny conditions, but by lunchtime today back clouds were gathering over the Apennine mountains overlooking the circuit and light rain started falling during FP4, increasing in intensity just in time for the Q1 qualifying session, but not enough for rain tyres.

This forced riders to take maximum risk on slicks, with Marquez riding with his usual bravery to end the session second quickest, winning him promotion to the Q2 qualifier.

Light drizzle was still falling at the start of Q2, with Marquez keen to get in some good laps before the rain got heavier. Sadly, during his out lap he rode over a wet patch and was flicked off his RC213V. In fact the rain stopped and the circuit dried out during the remainder of the session, but the best the battered and bruised six-times MotoGP World Champion could do was 12th, for a fourth-row start.

Later in the afternoon Marquez took part in a media conference with Repsol Honda Team manager Alberto Puig to announce that next week he will undergo a further operation on his right arm and shoulder, which have hampered him since his return to racing from injury last year.

Marquez will travel to the USA next week to undergo surgery with a world-renowned expert. He will be out of racing for some while, although it’s impossible to say at this stage when he will come back. His target, of course, is to regain the physical capabilities that allowed his to unleash his amazing riding technique, which has taken him to six MotoGP World Championships and 59 Grand Prix victories since 2013.

His younger brother Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s race from the sixth row, after working steadily forward over the last two days at this particularly challenging racetrack. The 26-year-old former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion made useful forward steps with bike settings this morning but had a complicated qualifying session, due to the ever-changing weather and track conditions.

There will be no time for MotoGP riders and teams to rest after tomorrow’s race – the eighth of this year’s 20 round (cut from 21, following the recent cancellation of July’s Finnish GP). Instead they will immediately head to Barcelona, Spain, for next weekend’s Catalan Grand Prix.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
It was a solid second day today, especially this morning in FP3 when we made a good lap time to get P9 and go into Q2 – it was a really important session. This afternoon was tricky and tough because the conditions were really unstable, but we were really competitive in the qualifying session and were fighting for a good position. At the end we finished in P8, on the third row for tomorrow’s race, but being the first Honda is really important for the team and myself. So overall it was a good second day, I’m pretty happy and now I’m ready to make a good result in Sunday’s race.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
It wasn’t a bad day when you look at the conditions, it was really easy to crash today and it was hard to make a lap. We have the same mixed feeling where we can’t be disappointed or upset with what we achieved but we can’t really enjoy it either. Tomorrow is the race and I am hoping the conditions stay cold like they were today because I think there’s the possibility to have a good race then. We’re strong on the brakes here, so we will need to use everything to fight against our rivals.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
Today was another difficult day. In free practice 4 we changed something on the bike which improved my feeling. Then Q1 and Q2 were honestly crazy. Especially in Q1 I took a lot of risk with the slicks because it was raining already. In Q2 I also took some risks but the result didn’t arrive and on the first lap I made a mistake and crashed. I expected it to be dry but it was completely wet. Finally, I could only do my time attack with a wet bike with some small changes to the set-up. Let’s see what happens in the race tomorrow, I will keep giving my 100% to help Honda.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
I think the final position doesn’t show our real potential. In the morning we did a really good step forward, we improved quite a lot and that’s the most important thing. Sadly, in qualifying I gave 100% but got traffic on my fast lap. It was complicated because of the conditions. The two guys in front of me had wet tyres and I had dry, so the difference of speed was too high and I lost time. I think today we had an opportunity to go to Q2 and were not able to take it, but we need to be positive for tomorrow because with a good start I think we can make a solid race.

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