Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) was Honda’s top finisher in today’s Dutch TT at Assen, the 11th race of this year’s 20-round MotoGP World Championship.
The race was watched by more than 104,000 fans, the first time a full house of spectators has been able to attend MotoGP’s longest-running event since 2019, before the global pandemic.
Honda’s four-rider line-up has been somewhat depleted by injury in recent weeks, with the company’s six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) recovering from surgery and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) withdrawing from this weekend’s event due to recent injuries.
The 30-year-old fell heavily during practice for last weekend’s German GP, injuring his ribs. He started that race but was forced to withdraw because he was struggling to breathe.
After plenty of treatment during the week Espargaro bravely took part in Friday practice here but exacerbated his rib injury while riding. Therefore yesterday morning the former Moto2 World Champion and his team took the decision not to race today and to focus on returning to full fitness.
That left Nakagami as Honda’s greatest hope at MotoGP’s most historic event, the only venue remaining from the inaugural 1949 motorcycling World Championships. The 30-year-old from Chiba qualified 12th yesterday and made a great start this afternoon, working his way into the top ten and fighting with rivals throughout the 26 laps.
Unfortunately, he was one penalised with a long-lap penalty for straying slightly over track limits and lost positions as a result.
At the finish Nakagami was 12th, less than a second behind three-times 2022 race winner Enea Bastianini(Ducati) and barely two seconds behind the eighth finisher. MotoGP is currently so closely fought that his race pace was only four tenths of a second slower than the race winner’s.
The race was hectic, with several crashes and incidents and light rain falling in the closing stages, but not enough to bring riders into pit lane to swap to their bikes equipped with rain tyres.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) knew today’s race would be a real challenge, after qualifying 21st yesterday afternoon, due to a misunderstanding between rider and crew. The 26-year-old Spaniard did everything in his power to move forward from his seventh-row start, completing the first lap in 14th place and establishing a good pace in the early stages. However, he struggled with rear grip in the later stages, having used so much of the rear tyre in the early laps. He finished 15th, scoring one point.
Honda’s MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) finished the race in 18th place. The 32-year-old German, who is deputising for Marc Marquez, was happy enough with his race pace, gathering important data for Honda engineers to further improve the 2022 RC213V. Bradl and the Honda MotoGP test team have a test scheduled in the next weeks, during which they will evaluate Honda’s latest updates.
After four races in the last five weekends the MotoGP paddock now embarks on a five-week midseason break, increased from three weeks due to the recent cancellation of July’s Finnish GP. The championship reconvenes at another historic race venue, Silverstone, for the British GP on August 7.