MotoGP 2022
Round 18

Comeback Hero Marquez On The Front Row Again

au Phillip Island

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.

Comeback Hero Marquez On The Front Row Again

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.

Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
Here it’s really important to take profit from the slipstream, I was able to get a good position on track for my fastest lap and this helped us gain some time. Tyre choice will be really important for the race, especially on the rear. I myself am also making improvements and feeling better and better each time out. I think this is the closest we have been to the top guys. We’ve been working well this weekend, working for the future and for the present – I think we found a good balance. Things are improving. As for the save, it was exactly like 2019! Same movement, same image and it’s good to see that I can now make some saves again on the right side. 

Alex Márquez
Alex Márquez 73
In the morning we played our cards and put on two new tyres which left us only one for qualy, and that was the main problem in qualy. But with just one tyre and the crash in FP4, I was still able to improve my time from FP3 a bit, so overall it was not bad at all. Due to the crash in FP4 I lost a little bit of confidence, but then I recovered it during qualifying. Our tyre choice for the race is still not clear, front yes, but rear no, we still have the three options open on the rear, so warm-up will be the key to know that. But starting from 11th, life changes a little bit [for the better].

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
We were really close to improving and going to Q2, less than a tenth of a second. But I was sleeping in Free Practice 3 and that’s how this situation has happened. I should have been faster than what I was in the session. I was losing a lot of time in a couple of places on track and it took me too long to find out how to improve in this area. On the positive side, we have figured it out and we were able to set a decent lap time in qualifying, even if it wasn’t enough. I think we can make some improvements in the race; the last ten laps will be very important with rear tyre life. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a strong rhythm like this.

Tetsuta Nagashima
Tetsuta Nagashima 45
Today was not bad, I feel quite positive because we made a good step from yesterday. In FP3, FP4 and qualifying we improved quite a lot, although qualifying was quite tough for me as it’s very difficult to make one lap. But FP4 wasn’t bad, I followed Alex and I learned a little bit more. I’m ready for the race. One lap was difficult, but our race pace isn’t bad, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.

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