Marquez Returns To MotoGP Action In Spectacular Style
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) lit up MotorLand Aragon yesterday and today as he returned to race action after a 15-week absence following the latest surgery to the right arm he injured in 2020.
The 29-year-old Spaniard with the indomitable fighting spirit was immediately back to his usual displays of magical riding, saving front and rear slides in spectacular fashion and entertaining TV viewers and the trackside crowd with his remarkable feats of skill and daring.
The six-times MotoGP World Champion had an exciting Saturday after a remarkable Friday, which he finished just 0.359 seconds off the fastest lap time, despite his lengthy layoff. In this morning’s FP3 session he took the chance to experiment with different chassis geometry settings on one of his bikes, but slid off the other machine, leaving him the task of making the top ten (to go straight through to Q2) with the experimental set-up.
As usual, Marquez gave it his all, ending FP3 in 12th place, less than two tenths of a second outside the top ten. He rallied as always to finish Q1 third fastest, missing out on promotion to Q2 by just six hundredths of a second. He will therefore start his first race since May’s Italian Grand Prix from the fifth row of the grid.
Marquez’s race return follows initial outings on his Honda CBR600RR training bike, then two days of post-San Marino GP testing, which went encouragingly well. His aim for tomorrow and the last five races of 2022 is to continue his rehab, regain bike strength and help Honda find the best development direction for 2023. Race results are, to an extent, irrelevant.
Honda’s top qualifier today ended up just ahead of Marquez. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) had an excellent first three practice sessions, which took him straight through to Q2 for the first time since June’s Dutch TT. The 30-year-old from Chiba ended that outing 12th fastest, for a fourth-row start. Nakagami qualified on pole for the first time here two years ago, so he definitely knows the fast way around this racetrack and will be aiming to better his best 2022 results so far – two sevenths at Jerez and Le Mans.
Nakagami’s team-mate Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) ended qualifying in 16th, not the best result, but MotoGP is so crazy-close at the moment that he was less than sixth tenths of a second away from going directly into Q2. The 26-year-old Spaniard and twice World Champion was a regular visitor to the Aragon podium during his time in the Moto2 and Moto3 World Championships, so he has high hopes of a strong race tomorrow.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) did everything he knew how to make it through to Q2, pushing so hard in the Q1 outing that he slid off at the very end of the session. That left the 31-year-old Spaniard unable to show his true speed, so he will start the race from 18th on the grid.
Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Aragon completes the main European section of the 2022 MotoGP series, with riders and teams now heading east for next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi and the following weekend’s Thai GP at Buriram. Two weeks later it’s the Australian GP, then immediately the Malaysian GP. The season concludes with the Valencia GP on 6 November.