Comeback Hero Marquez On The Front Row Again
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s Australian MotoGP race from the front row of the grid, his second time in the top three of qualifying since he returned from surgery at last month’s Aragon Grand Prix.
Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion is in stunning form around this super-fast racetrack, where talent, bravery and machine performance are all tested to the limit. The 29-year-old Spaniard, who is using an aerodynamics update to his RC213V, was fastest at the end of the first three practice sessions and ended qualifying just 0.013 seconds off pole position. Three weeks ago he started the Japanese GP from pole, his first of the 2022 season.
Marquez adores anti-clockwise circuits and he entertained MotoGP fans with his remarkable skills in qualifying, spinning and smoking his rear tyre through Phillip Island’s high-speed Turn Three left-hander and saving a huge front-end slide at the Turn Ten right-hander. This is further proof that he is continuing to build strength and speed following a six-race absence, which followed surgery to his right upper arm, which he injured in 2020 and had been holding him back.
This is the first Australian MotoGP round since 2019, when Marquez won the race, adding to his earlier MotoGP victories in 2015 and 2017. There’s no doubt that he has a real chance of achieving his first podium of 2022 in tomorrow’s race, which would also be his 100th podium since he joined the premier class in 2013.
Younger brother Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) is also enjoying a strong weekend. The 26-year-old Spaniard ended FP3 seventh fastest, just three tenths of a second behind his brother. However, he couldn’t match that performance in qualifying, ending the Q2 session 11th fastest, after sliding off at Turn Six during FP4. The former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion was less than a second off pole and will start the middle of the fourth row.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) is one row further back. The 31-year-old Spaniard ended yesterday an impressive third fastest, just five hundredths of a second off the best time of the day, but he slipped to 15th in FP3, requiring him to go through the Q1 session. The former Phillip Island Moto2 winner led the Q1 session until the final moments, missing out of promotion to Q2 by just four hundredths of a second.
Nevertheless Espargaro has shown some real speed this weekend – his best Q1 lap was faster than the three Q2 riders ahead of him on the grid – so he has real hopes of racing with the front group, if he can get a good start and fight his way through.
Tetsuta Nagashima (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) is replacing the injured Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) for the second race in a row. The Honda test rider, contesting only his third race in the premier class, worked hard to find his way around this most challenging of racetracks, ending qualifying in 24th.
The 30-year-old from Kanagawa, a top-ten finisher at Phillip Island during his Moto2 career, will find out early next week if he will compete in next weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, after Nakagami undergoes another medical check on the right hand he injured at Aragon.
The Malaysian GP at Sepang is the penultimate race of this year’s 20-race championship. The season finale takes place at Valencia, Spain, on 6th November.