Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) today rode to a hard-fought eighth place at magical Mugello, arguably the most popular stop on the MotoGP World Championship.
The 30-year-old from Chiba rode a strong race at the front of the second group, battling with fellow Honda rider Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) and others around the Italian circuit’s super-fast sweepers and ultra-quick start/finish straight.
The result followed Nakagami’s strong results at the previous two races in France and Spain, where he twice placed seventh, a substantial improvement on his performances at the first five races, where his best finish was tenth in the season-opening Qatar GP.
Nakagami will use these three results as a platform from which to work at further improving his pace and closing the gap on the leaders during the next few races with the latest RC213V, which was all-new for this season.
Marquez completed the race in tenth, less than a second behind Nakagami, in the eighth-closest top ten since motorcycling’s World Championships began in 1949. However, the biggest news for the 29-year-old Spaniard is that he will soon undergo a fourth operation on the right humerus (upper arm) bone he fractured when he fell during the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix.
Despite three previous operations on the arm he still cannot assume his preferred position on his motorcycle, so he is unable to ride in the way that brought him six MotoGP World Championships in just seven seasons.
Therefore on Tuesday he will fly to the USA, where he will be under the care of Dr Joaquin Sanchez Sotelo, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in shoulder, arm and elbow conditions at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Once Marquez has completed the immediate post-operative phase he will return home to Spain to recuperate. His team of doctors will then assess his condition but it will be some time before they can predict when he will be ready to return to racing.
Marquez has won 57 MotoGP races and six titles for Honda since 2013, making him the third most successful rider in Grand Prix history. He also won the 2012 Moto2 and 2010 125cc world titles before graduating to the premier class in 2013.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) finished inside the points for the fourth consecutive race. Unable to make it into the top ten, as he did last month in Portugal, where he finished seventh, he took the chequered flag in 14th, just behind former Moto2 rival Jorge Martin. Next week the 26-year-old Spaniard hopes for better from his home race, outside Barcelona.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) had expected a strong ride after qualifying alongside Nakagami on the third row of the grid. However, the 30-year-old Spaniard didn’t have a great start to the 23-lap race, completing the first lap back in 14th position.
That forced him to take bigger risks as he tried to fight his way back into contention. On lap five he fell at the exit of the high-speed Arrabbiata 1. Although battered and bruised he was able to walk away from the incident.
The MotoGP paddock is already on its way to the next race, next weekend’s Catalan GP, where practice gets underway on Friday morning. The German and Dutch rounds follow in quick succession, on June 19 and 26.