MotoGP 2022
Round 11

Nakagami To Start Historic Dutch TT From Fourth Row

nl TT Circuit Assen

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) was Honda’s top-performing rider at Assen today, putting his RC213V on the fourth row of the grid after placing 12th quickest in this afternoon’s qualifying session.

Nakagami To Start Historic Dutch TT From Fourth Row

Assen is MotoGP’s longest-established venue. It has hosted motorcycle races since the 1920s and is the only circuit remaining from the inaugural 1949 season of motorcycle World Championship racing.

Nakagami had good reason to expect a better grid position after an excellent FP3 session this morning, which he finished fourth quickest, less than two tenths of a second off the best lap time. That suggested the 31-year-old from Chiba and 2016 Assen Moto2 winner had a great chance of fighting for a position on the first two rows in Q2, but he was out of luck because he had to slow for yellow warning flags and then had his fastest lap cancelled for exceeding track limits, so he ended the session in 12th.

Honda’s usual line-up of four MotoGP riders was reduced to three this morning when Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) withdrew from the event due to injuries sustained during practice for last weekend’s German Grand Prix. The 30-year-old Spaniard fell heavily at Sachsenring, injuring his ribs. He bravely elected to race but retired early, because he was in extreme pain and struggling to breathe.

Despite constant treatment over the last few days Espargaro’s injury was still a huge problem yesterday, so this morning he decided together with his team that it would be better not to race tomorrow and instead focus on recovering during the championship’s mid-season break, which starts on Monday. Espargaro had already shown great courage, setting third-fastest time in the wet Friday morning session.

Espargaro’s exit leaves Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) the lone rider in the Repsol Honda garage for the rest of the weekend. Bradl, who is usually Honda’s MotoGP test rider and is currently deputising for six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), qualified 18th fastest.

Yesterday was dominated by rain, with FP3 the first fully dry session for MotoGP riders. Like everyone else the 32-year-old German only really had this morning to get up to speed for qualifying. He was 22nd at the end of FP3, so he did well to move forward several paces during qualifying.

Latest weather forecasts suggest that the 2022 Dutch TT will take place on a dry track and Bradl’s intention is clear, to make up for a difficult German GP by finishing inside the points.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) will start the 11th race of this year’s 20-round MotoGP World Championship from 21st on the grid. Assen is arguably MotoGP’s most complex circuit and this is only Marquez’s second MotoGP weekend at the track, with the first two sessions spoiled by rain, so he hasn’t had an easy time getting up to speed. Also, there was a misunderstanding between him and his crew regarding bike set-up for qualifying. 

Marquez was unable to finish the German GP, which ended a fine run of point-scoring finishes at each of the five previous GPs, including a superb seventh place in Portugal. Tomorrow he will aim to start another long run of points scores.

This year’s Dutch TT is the fourth race in five weekends and precedes a five-week mid-season break, created by the cancellation of next month’s Finnish GP. The championship resumes with the British GP at Silverstone on August 7.

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
This morning in FP3 we did a good lap time and ended up P4, so we were pretty happy about the performance and the lap time. This afternoon in Q2 I was looking for a 31s lap time but I couldn’t because there were some yellow flags and I got a track limits so my best lap time was cancelled. In qualifying we are struggling a little bit, so P12 is not a good result for us. The good thing is that we were able to try many things for the race pace in FP4 and we decided to go with the soft compound rear tyre. Our race pace is good, so we’ll try to keep calm, make a good start and get a good result.

Stefan Bradl
Stefan Bradl 6
Repsol Honda Team
It was not such a bad final result in qualifying as we were still exploring some settings with the bike in FP3 and FP4 to get a direction. Missing FP1 with rain left us a bit far away with setup but we’ve done a good job today. In Qualifying we were more or less on target and tomorrow we can be with the group, fighting and getting some positions. I need to make a good start to stay in the group and then see what happens in the race.

Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez 73
It was a difficult day here at Assen and an especially difficult qualifying. We had a misunderstanding and we made a mistake which cost us the qualifying. We were not far from our (Honda) colleagues, Taka and Bradl, but I was suffering a lot. It was a misunderstanding, maybe I didn’t explain very well what was happening on the bike in FP4 and we made a mistake in direction. Anyway, tomorrow we need to keep going, the race will be long and we still have warm-up to keep improving. We’ll try our best from the first moment and try to get in the points.

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
I feel really sorry for the team, to not finish the Grand Prix was a very hard decision. I thought I was okay after the first session but yesterday in FP2 I pushed very hard and I hurt myself riding the bike. I don’t know exactly what I have done but it got worse and I have been struggling with the pain and to breathe. My main priority is to understand the situation fully and work on recovering fully during the summer.

Published on