MotoGP 2022
Round 9

Espargaro And Nakagami On Row Four At Barcelona

es-ct Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) was the best of Honda’s RC213V riders in today’s qualifying sessions for tomorrow’s Catalan Grand Prix.

Espargaro And Nakagami On Row Four At Barcelona

The 30-year-old Spaniard will start the ninth round of 2022 from tenth of the grid, after riding in some of the most punishing conditions of the year so far.

Espargaro, born and raised in nearby Granollers, recovered from a tricky start to the day to go straight through to the Q2 qualifier. He suffered a minor fall at Turn Five in FP3 but dug deep to set the eighth best time of the session, earning him an automatic place in Q2.

The stiflingly hot conditions and low grip offered by the track surface have been a big talking point in pit lane. Track temperatures of 58 degrees greeted riders for MotoGP qualifying, reducing grip. Finding adequate rear traction has been a high priority for all riders throughout the last two days.

While the 2013 Moto2 World Champion was hopeful of qualifying further ahead, he was pleased with his race rhythm in yesterday afternoon’s FP2 outing. Braking from top speed into Turn One was Espargaro’s biggest challenge today. However, he is confident that his Repsol Honda crew can find a solution which should help him to be back in the battle for a podium finish.

Espargaro will share the fourth row with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V), who will start from 12th, after he came through to Q2 from Q1.

It’s been a busy weekend for the 30-year-old from Chiba. With Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V)currently recovering from a successful operation on his right arm in the USA, Nakagami has been tasked with testing new chassis and swingarm parts that were used by Marquez in last week’s Italian GP.

Initially, he struggled to record competitive times in the soaring afternoon temperatures. But a crucial set-up change by his LCR Honda crew during FP4 improved Nakagami’s pace as he aims to score a fourth consecutive top-eight result. The two-times Moto2 Grand Prix race winner went on to place second in Q1 before posting the 12th fastest time in Q2. Had he not run into traffic in the final sector, he is confident he could have qualified even higher.

It has been a weekend of adaptation for HRC test rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who is making his third race appearance of 2022, deputising for Marc Marquez. The 32-year-old German qualified 21st after a tight, competitive Q1 session.

Bradl has enjoyed a solid weekend. Despite a Turn Five crash in Friday afternoon’s FP2, he made no mistakes today and is building speed in his first race appearance since the Spanish GP in early May.

Today was a tough day for Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V), who was unable to participate in qualifying after suffering a fast crash at the end of FP4. The 26-year-old lost the front at the Circuit of Barcelona–Catalunya’s final corner and was taken to the medical centre to check his condition after a fast trip through the gravel.

Aside from grazes to his arms and back, Marquez was largely OK. The double World Champion, who hails from Cervera, just an hour’s ride from the circuit, counts his home track among his favourites. He has won here three times in the past (once in Moto3, twice in Moto2) so despite starting tomorrow’s race from 25th, he is hopeful of climbing the order to finish in the points in the 24-lap race.

After tomorrow’s racing teams and riders have next weekend off before back-to-back races at the German and Dutch GPs on June 19 and June 26. The season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on November 6.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
FP3 was quite good for us, even with the crash. Already we knew that the afternoon would be harder and I wasn’t able to be faster. I was losing most of my time braking into Turn One, this is where my time went. Tenth was the best we could do finally in qualifying. Tomorrow is going to be a tricky race; we will need to use the harder tyres and try to manage them – like everyone. The change in temperature is not a lot so finally the track will be greasy like today. Let’s see what happens and no matter what we will try out best for the home fans here!

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
It was a busy second day because unfortunately I couldn’t get through to Q2 directly this morning. We ended up P17 in FP3 – it was a really tough session. This afternoon the conditions were really hot and we suffered a lot. In FP4 we tried many things to prepare for the race and it looks like we found a good pace. In Q1 I gave my best and we ended up P2, so we were able to make it through to Q2 again which is always good. In Q2, however, I wasn’t able to put it all together and, on my last lap in the last sector, I had some traffic so it wasn’t my best lap. It was a really busy morning and afternoon, but we have a good pace, so hopefully we can produce a great result in tomorrow’s race.

Stefan Bradl
Stefan Bradl 6
Repsol Honda Team
We improved a little bit over yesterday and I avoided any mistakes. This morning I struggled a bit to find speed in qualifying mode but in Q1 we made a step and improved our position. Still, we are building our speed and this is where we are at the moment. Our plan for the race is to manage the tyres and the situation, the main goal is to finish the race and learn what we can. I am not setting a specific target for the race, just to be with the others.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
So today the day did not end as we wanted. I gave 100% as always and did my best to improve every exit. I always try to be on the limit, but unfortunately in FP4 I had a big crash that put me out of qualy. The good news is nothing is broken, I had a lot of pain, but it will be important to race tomorrow and I’ll focus on the warm-up to try and get the feeling back again.

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