MotoGP 2022
Round 16

Marquez The Master Of Motegi With Superb Pole Position

jp Mobility Resort Motegi

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) was the master of Motegi today, taking his first pole position since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix here, since when his championship aspirations have been compromised by injuries.

Marquez The Master Of Motegi With Superb Pole Position

Qualifying day was mostly dominated by typhoon Nanmadol which unleashed torrential rain, thunder and lightning at the circuit situated north of Tokyo, delaying qualifying by around one hour. 

The changeable weather is making life very complicated for the paddock. Yesterday was dry and tomorrow is forecast to be dry, so riders will go racing with very little dry-track data, especially considering the fact that they haven’t been here for three years. 

However, nothing could take anything away from Marquez, who was fastest in this morning’s soaking FP2 and was in stunning form in the Q2 session, also undertaken on a soaking track, and watched all the way by Honda Racing Corporation President Koji Watanabe. One week after his comeback at the Aragon Grand Prix the 29-year-old Spaniard once again displayed his remarkable talent and super-fast reactions to take the 91st pole of his career, two tenths ahead of his closest rival Johann Zarco. It is 1071 days since his last pole. 

Although this pole proves that the six-times MotoGP World Champion has lost none of his spell-binding skills he realises that a 24-lap race around Motegi, built 25 years ago to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd, will be a bigger challenge. Although his right humerus (upper-arm) bone is 100% fixed he is still building the muscles he needs to ride a full race at full pace. 

Tomorrow’s race is Marquez’s 150th GP start and there is no doubt that he will do his maximum as always and that the Japanese crowd will cheer him all the way. 

Honda’s next-best qualifier was team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who is also due to make his 150th GP start. The 31-year-old Spaniard qualified 11th, following a nasty tumble in FP2, which brought out the red flags. Espargaro enjoys Motegi – he won the Honda-powered Moto2 race here in 2013 – and will be hoping that a dry track will allow him to use his Honda’s performance to move closer to the front. 

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) will start the race from two rows behind Espargaro, after recording the 17th best lap of qualifying, although he was faster in Q1 than some riders in the later Q2 session. The tricky, ever-changing track conditions didn’t help the 26-year-old Spaniard, who will be hoping that a dry race will allow him to increase his pace to score World Championship points for the fourth race in a row. Previously he has won the Motegi Moto3 races, in 2013 and 2014, and the Moto2 race, in 2017 

Although Motegi hasn’t been a straightforward weekend for anyone, it has been particularly challenging for Japan’s number-one motorcycle racer Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V). Last weekend the 30-year-old from Chiba crashed out of the Aragon GP after an unlucky collision with the elder Marquez brother. 

That tumble left him with tendon damage to the fourth and fifth fingers on his right hand, requiring him to undergo surgery in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, the worst start to his home-race week. Despite considerable pain Nakagami is riding well, but a crash during qualifying puts him at the back of the grid. This race will not be easy for him but he will do his best for his fans. 

Honda has a Wild Card rider contesting its home race. Official MotoGP test rider Tetsuta Nagashima (HRC Team Honda RC213V) makes his MotoGP debut after months of helping Honda with development of the RC213V. The 30-year-old from Kanagawa rode well today, especially considering the fact that this was his first outing on a MotoGP bike in fully wet conditions, so he did well competing with the full-time MotoGP riders and completed qualifying in 19th. Nagashima used to be a full-time Grand Prix rider, competing in the Moto2 World Championship. He has won a single GP victory, in Qatar in 2020. 

Tomorrow is the second consecutive race day in a three-week marathon, between the Aragon and Thai Grands Prix. Riders and teams get one weekend off before the back-to-back Australian and Malaysian GPs before returning to Europe for the season finale at Valencia, Spain, on 6 November. The 2023 MotoGP season effectively starts two days later with a one-day post-season test at Valencia, the last time riders will ride their MotoGP bikes before the first pre-season tests at Sepang, Malaysia, next February.

Marc Márquez
Marc Márquez 93
Repsol Honda Team
Today is an amazing day, we must celebrate and enjoy it! I knew I could be fast in these conditions, and I had to take the maximum profit from it. It’s good to return to pole, to be on the front row at Honda’s home circuit – they deserve it because they are working very hard. Of course, it is just a pole position and it is in the wet – but coming from where we are, it’s really important to get these smaller achievements. If it’s dry tomorrow, we will come back to our reality but no matter what I am sure I will enjoy the first laps. I want to say thank you to HRC and to the Repsol Honda Team for continuing to support and believe in me, we are coming. 

Pol Espargaro
Pol Espargaro 44
Repsol Honda Team
Today I was feeling good in the morning before the crash. It can happen in the wet because the conditions are always changing and the line is very small. The distance between a good lap and a crash is very small in the wet, but still I felt like I could be fast in qualifying. Then everything changed in the afternoon with the conditions and the bike wasn’t feeling like before. I even stopped to change the rear tyre to see if that was the problem but it didn’t change anything. It’s a shame because we had a lot of potential, but let’s see what happens on Sunday. Congratulations to Marc and the whole team, he did something impressive today. 

Alex Márquez
Alex Márquez 73
Second day here in Japan and we had an opportunity, but we didn’t take our chance. We were quite good in the morning in rainy conditions, we had good pace and a good feeling. Later on we had the issue of delays to qualy, so went straight into Q1 and Q2, and in Q1 I didn’t feel very good from the beginning. Compared to the morning the feeling was much worse, there was no grip at the rear and it was difficult to manage. I’m sad and angry because it was a big opportunity, but we need to keep going, because tomorrow will be dry. We need to have a good warm-up and then push in the race until the last lap. 

Tetsuta Nagashima
Tetsuta Nagashima 45
Team HRC
Today was my first day riding a MotoGP machine in the full wet. It was a lot of learning for me, I had to understand the Michelin rain tyres, how to use them and you can really see the level of the MotoGP riders in the wet. I had hoped to achieve more, but finally given my experience and the fact that we are here to collect data – 19th on the grid is not so bad. My objective is to finish the race to give the information to my engineers so we can keep developing the bike. I am really enjoying MotoGP. 

Takaaki Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami 30
It was a tough second day; the conditions were pretty tricky, there were some delays and we didn’t have an FP3. After the morning session we went straight to Q1 and it was pretty tough conditions. I had a small crash before the first corner, I lost the front and we lost the chance to make a time attack. I swapped bikes for the last couple of minutes, but it was too late. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, hopefully we can have a good day. In dry conditions, hopefully we can make a good start and recover some positions during the race and I want to enjoy it. 

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