MotoGP 2022
Round 5

Marc Marquez Denied Second-Row Start By Yellow Flags

pt Autódromo Internacional do Algarve

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) had another extraordinary day of MotoGP today, the six-times MotoGP World Champion taking a heavy fall in this morning’s soaking FP3 session, then battling for pole position in qualifying.

Marc Marquez Denied Second-Row Start By Yellow Flags

Marquez set the fastest lap time so far in the closing stages of the Q2 session, but the lap was cancelled because yellow flags were displayed at the final corner, where team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) had slid off without injury moments earlier.

The 29-year-old Spaniard will therefore start tomorrow’s race from the third row of the grid from ninth position, sharing the row with his younger brother Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V), who qualified seventh, after a stellar day on his 26th birthday. This is the former Moto3 and Moto2 World Champion’s best-ever MotoGP grid position.

Weather conditions have dominated the first two days of the first European round of the 2022 MotoGP season at the Algarve International Circuit, a short ride inland from Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Heavy rain and strong winds affected all of yesterday’s sessions, the elder Marquez and Espargaro showing their commitment by ending the day first and second fastest.

The bad weather continued this morning, getting so bad following MotoGP FP3 that Moto2 FP3 was briefly red-flagged for safety reasons. Finally, the sun came out and the track began to dry during MotoGP FP4, preceding the Q1 and Q2 qualifiers.

The younger Marquez slid off in FP3, so he completed free practice 15th fastest, which required him to go through Q1. At the start of Q1 the track was still wet in parts, so the majority of riders went out on rain tyres. Most of those who risked slicks were quickly caught out by the lack of grip and crashed.

Marquez started on rain tyres and battled for first position with team-mate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V). In the final stages, with the track continuing to dry, Marquez rode out of pit lane on slicks. He had timed his switch perfectly, upping his pace considerably to top the session and graduate to Q2.

Using his track knowledge from Q1 he fought for pole in Q2 and halfway through the session he was fastest, with his older brother second! In the final minutes, as the track continued to dry, both slipped down the order, Alex sliding off on his slowdown lap.

Big brother Marquez’s qualifying speed was impressive considering this morning’s fall, when he was highsided at Turn 8. He sat out the remainder of that session and only joined FP4 once the track was more dry than wet. In Q2 his final lap briefly put him fastest. If it hadn’t been cancelled it would have been good enough for fourth on the grid, just a fraction of a second off the front row.

Marquez’s fighting spirit will surely make him a contender for a podium tomorrow, so long as he can get a good start at this very twisty circuit, which makes overtaking difficult.

Espargaro was riding by far his fastest lap of Q2 when he lost the front on a wet part of the track as he rode through the final corner. The 30-year-old Spaniard was incredibly disappointed because the first three sectors of that lap were good enough to put him on the second row. Instead, he remained tenth-fastest, leading row four. He was unharmed in the fall, so tomorrow he will do his best to charge through the pack with his team-mate.

Nakagami was one of the riders who started Q1 on slicks, but after one exploratory lap he wisely returned to his garage and continued with his rain-tyre-equipped bike. For much of the 15 minutes he had a great chance of completing the session inside the top two to graduate to Q2. However, he ended up seventh, which puts him 17th on the grid.

Yesterday the 30-year-old from Chiba was one of many to fall victim to the treacherous conditions, falling at the high-speed Turn 9 left-hander. The combination of heavy rain, standing water and cold winds made it very difficult for riders to get enough heat into their tyres to find good grip, especially in this clockwise track’s few left-handers.

After tomorrow’s racing the paddock will pack up and make the short drive to Jerez, 355km/220 miles away, for next weekend’s Spanish GP.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
Second day here in Portimao. In FP3 I made a mistake, so we weren’t able to go in Q2 directly as we had a small crash. Nonetheless, we were able to turn around the situation quite quickly and I was feeling really good at the end of FP3 and also during FP4 in mixed conditions. Qualy was difficult, but I put on slick tyres and wet tyres at the right moments. The team helped me a lot to make those decisions, it was perfect. I’m really happy about our day, it was the best qualy of the season. Tomorrow will be a completely different day as it’s expected to be full dry. So, we’ll need to be really focused in the warm-up to take a good step there but we’ll be ready for the race. I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes!

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
Today we were unlucky with the yellow flag. I was waiting until the last moments to push and do my fastest lap because I knew that the track would keep improving. But these things can happen, today it impacted my lap time but tomorrow it could affect another rider. The most important point is that the speed is there, even if the result was not and we start ninth. Of course, it’s not what we would like but it could be worse. Tomorrow in warm-up we need to understand the level and try to understand tyre choice, set-up and a few other things. No one really knows who is fastest or what will happen in the dry.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
It was a difficult situation for everyone, but I think we had good speed today and I think our position was on the second row, maybe in fourth or fifth. I made a mistake in the last corner, and I went over a wet patch and lost the front right at the end. It’s a pity because we were getting faster, and the conditions were improving and then I missed the last chance where all the other riders improved. We had a real opportunity to be on the second row tomorrow, but we missed it. Tomorrow is the race and all we can do is go for it. The bike is feeling good and tomorrow morning we have an opportunity to keep working on it before the race.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
It was a tough day today as the weather was really unstable. In FP3 and FP4 it was wet conditions, but in Q1 it was a little bit mixed.  We had decided to go straight out on slick tyres from the beginning of the session to stay on the track but it was too risky to stay on slicks so we changed to rain tyres. Unfortunately, I got the timing wrong. To be honest, I’m disappointed that we couldn’t go to Q2. Anyway, tomorrow will be a dry race and we’ll be prepared.

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