MotoGP 2022
Round 2

Challenging Qualifying For Honda Riders In Indonesia

id Mandalika International Street Circuit

Today was a challenging day for Honda’s four MotoGP riders at Indonesia’s brand-new Mandalika Circuit.

Challenging Qualifying For Honda Riders In Indonesia

Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) took two tumbles in a dramatic Q1 qualifying session, consigning him to a fifth-row start in tomorrow’s second race of the 2021 MotoGP series.

The 29-year-old Spaniard will start ahead of Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), on the sixth row, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V), on the seventh row, and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V), on the eighth row.

All four Honda men were quietly confident of a good weekend following last month’s pre-season exploratory tests at Mandalika, which were topped by Espargaro, with the older Marquez also very much on the pace.

However, a one-off change of rear-tire specification for this weekend has changed everything. MotoGP tire supplier Michelin was concerned that its usual rear slick, used during the tests, would not survive race distance in the punishing tropical conditions at Mandalika.

Therefore the company has reverted to an older-specification rear tire with a much harder construction. This tire doesn’t seem suited to the all-new RC213V, which was designed specifically to work with Michelin’s current rear slick, introduced in 2020, featuring a considerably softer construction.

The good news is that today’s difficulties shouldn’t be repeated at other racetracks, because this Mandalika rear slick won’t be used at any more of the remaining 19 races of 2022.

Marquez never gives up and he certainly didn’t give up in Q1 this afternoon. Despite struggling with grip due to the stiffer rear tire, he did everything in his power to move from the Q1 to the Q2 session.

However, he had plenty of scares as he ran out of grip on many occasions, finally crashing soon after halfway through the Q1 session. The 29-year-old Spaniard got back to the Repsol Honda garage as quickly as possible, re-joining the track on his other machine with just over three minutes remaining. Once again he was in full-attack mode to make it into Q2, so he could fight for a position on the front four rows of the grid. However, grip issues once again caught him out and he slid off again. Unhurt from the two tumbles he knows that tomorrow’s race will be a super tough test for him.

Espargaro had exactly the same issues – a lack of rear grip which forced him to overuse the front tire. Like his team-mate he knows that the 27-lap race will be a huge challenge, because he is struggling with both front and rear tires.

Like his fellow RC213V riders the younger Marquez felt good after Friday, because wet weather disguised the issues that would become apparent today. The 25-year-old ended qualifying 19th fastest and will aim for his first points score of the year in tomorrow’s race.

Nakagami had a good race in Qatar two weeks ago, so the 30-year-old from Chiba was looking forward to building on that result tomorrow as he gets to grips with the all-new RC213V. However, he was constrained by the same issues that affected Espargaro and the Marquez brothers. His intention therefore is to finish the race and gain a few more World Championship points.

After tomorrow’s racing at Mandalika the MotoGP circus enjoys one weekend off before reconvening in South America, for the Argentine GP on April 3, followed by the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas, on April 10.

Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
I am more or less OK after the two crashes today. When you are in Q1 you need to take risks and this is what can happen. I can’t be happy about today, all Honda riders are struggling. The only good thing was that we were starting 15th on the clean part of the track but now we will start on the dirty side after Morbidelli’s penalty. It is what it is, tomorrow we have to attack. Our reality is much better than what today showed, even with the different rear. The objective is to try to finish the race.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Today was a super tough day, I can’t say that I am anything but disappointed. The different rear tire we have here is not working with our new bike and it’s causing us to struggle a lot and have more problems. We showed our potential here in the first test with the tire we will use all year, you can see the impact it has because now other riders who struggled a lot during the test are flying. Tomorrow’s race will be about making it to the end, it’s all we can do. We will be back stronger.

Alex Márquez
Alex Márquez 73
Second day here at Mandalika and I think we made a step forward compared to yesterday, we are a bit closer to our competitors, but we are still suffering a lot with front feeling, front turning, with grip, a little bit in every parameter really. It’s normal though because we didn’t know this bike, it’s completely new for us and we have lots to discover. I hope in the future in the other tracks we will have less problems, but this is how it is for now, we need to keep going, keep working and get all the information we can. Tomorrow is the race, today we had something more but I made some mistakes in the fast laps. Tomorrow we’ll try to make a fast start, to be competitive from the beginning and try to enjoy it as much as we can. We’ll also be ready if it rains as all conditions are possible here.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
Honestly this afternoon was tough for us, both FP4 and Q1. In FP4 we tried to keep the used tire on to see tire life for tomorrow’s race and we also tried the hard front which was the first time for us this weekend. I lost confidence after trying the hard front and so we went back, but the confidence was not the same as in FP2 and then there were yellow flags and some bad luck in qualifying, so I was really disappointed with our performance and it was not the result we wanted. For tomorrow’s race it will be difficult from the back of the grid, but I will try my best of course and 27 laps is very long for the tire life. I’ll do my best and see what position we can get and keep pushing.

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