MotoGP 2022
Round 1

Marquez And New RC213V Start 2022 From Losail Front Row

qa Lusail International Circuit

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s much-anticipated first race of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship from the front row of the grid, following a stunning performance in this evening’s qualifying session at floodlit Losail.

Marquez And New RC213V Start 2022 From Losail Front Row

The 29-year-old Spaniard, who is fighting back from two injury-blighted seasons, led the thrilling 15-minute session, finally ending up a very close third, 0.272 seconds off pole position. This was a magnificent performance, because he is riding an all-new RC213V, which has undergone a complete redesign for the 2022 season. 

Marquez is hugely impressed by the new machine but is still getting to know the bike and says he has yet to extract its full potential, which bodes well for the future. 

Just as significantly, Honda’s six-times MotoGP king says his right arm and shoulder are back to full strength, allowing him to ride at his best, which he couldn’t last year, even though he won three races between injuries. This is Marquez’s tenth season in the premier class. 

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start the opening race from the second row of the grid, immediately behind Marquez, after qualifying a highly competitive sixth, less than a tenth of a second slower than his team-mate and just 0.048 seconds off the front after making a minor mistake on his best lap. 

The 30-year-old Spaniard is also delighted with Honda’s latest RC213V, which moves the balance of the machine rearwards, in accordance with MotoGP’s latest Michelin spec tyres. This change really suits Espargaro’s riding style, allowing him to use the rear brake and rear tyre much more aggressively into corners. If he can get away with the leaders tomorrow he is confident he will be in with a chance of a podium finish. 

The last few MotoGP seasons have been by far the closest in the championship’s history, going all the way back to 1949, and yet 2022 looks set to be even tighter. The Q2 the 12 riders were covered by 0.971 seconds. 

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) started the weekend in stunning form, placing second in FP1 and repeated that performance in today’s important FP4 session, when riders work specifically on their race pace with their race set-ups. 

By the end of the first three practice sessions he was only 0.606 seconds off the fastest lap time, but that put him 13th overall, so he had to go through this evening’s opening Q1 qualifying session. The 30-year-old from Chiba was sixth quickest in Q1, which puts him on the sixth row of the grid. 

Although Nakagami can run a very fast race pace on the new RC213V he is still working to get the maximum out of the machine with a soft new rear slick in qualifying. Currently he finds the softest compound tyre actually gives too much grip, so he feels he can flow with the bike much better once the tyre is slightly worn. 

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V), the younger Marquez brother, completed the Q1 session two places behind his LCR Honda team-mate. The 25-year-old Spaniard had high hopes of going straight through to the Q2 qualifying session for the fastest riders after a strong showing in FP1, but two crashes sessions dented his confidence, so after the first three sessions he was outside the top ten, which put him into Q1. The youngster has shown consistent race pace both here and during pre-season testing, so his focus for tomorrow is to get a good start, get away with a fast group and move forward from there. 

This year’s Qatar GP gets underway at 18:00 tomorrow. The race commences the longest World Championship season since the inaugural series in 1949. There are 21 races, with round two taking place in Indonesia on March 20. The year ends at Valencia, Spain, in November.

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
It’s important to start in the front two rows of the grid and this was the goal for today. Qatar is not one of the best circuits for my style but thanks to a step we made in FP4 I have been feeling better. I’m happy but tomorrow is the most important day and we are not the fastest guy out there at the moment. Of course there’s still time to work and we will try to manage everything well. Our FP4 pace is close and the track can change a lot here with the wind, the sand and humidity. Let’s see what happens on Sunday. I am excited! 

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Speaking honestly, it’s a shame to be so close to the front row and just miss out. But we have to look at the bigger picture, I made a mistake and still we are this close to the front row still. It shows the progress we are making but starting on the front two rows is good. These top six positions are where you need to be at the start of the race. Apart from this it was a very good day, I was calm and didn’t get too excited with how we were feeling on the bike. We’ve made the first step of the year and tomorrow we will see what will unfold in the race, anything can still happen. 

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
We ended up P6 in Q1 today. In FP4 I had really good race pace, P2, which is a good sign for tomorrow’s race, but unfortunately, we couldn’t take a big step on the qualifying lap. We are struggling a little bit when we put new tyres on. We need to understand where we are losing, but, as I said, we have good race pace and hopefully we can make a good start and be consistent on every lap. I hope we can have a great comeback and finish in a good position for the opening race of the season. I have a good feeling on the bike and I’ll work really hard with all my team. 

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
After yesterday, with both crashes I struggled with front feeling and front confidence and I’m still not able to turn the bike as I want, so it’s a bit of a strange feeling. We changed the bike, we changed everything, but I still didn’t have the feeling that I wanted. It is what it is. Anyway, the championship has only just started and tomorrow is the most important day (of the weekend), it’s race day. We’ll try to make a good start and it will be important to get a better feeling and then try to enjoy the race – this is the main target. I will try to do the best race I can, give 100 percent and then start to build confidence again. We need to have a good race tomorrow to start the season in a solid way. 

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