Marquez Rides Magic Front-Row Lap at Sepang
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after a remarkable performance here at Sepang, while using the latest upgrade parts from Honda.
The 29-year-old Spaniard faced an immense challenge after ending free practice outside the top ten, after he was slowed by another rider while on a crucial lap during this morning’s FP3 session. This required him to go through the Q1 qualifier, with a number of very talented other riders, but he was up to the challenge, riding a stunning final lap, which put him inside the top two, winning him a place in Q2.
Once again Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion was on stellar form, riding the third best lap to make him third fastest. This is the third time in the last four races since his comeback from a four-month layoff following arm surgery that he’s been on the front row： he started last month’s Japanese GP from pole position and last Sunday’s Australian GP from second, going on to finish the race a very close second, his first podium result since his return to action.
Rain was forecast for this afternoon but it stayed away for qualifying, allowing a thriller of a session, with Marquez one of the stars, riding his RC213V in his usual spectacular style.
Today’s performance was particularly impressive considering the fact that Marquez’s main focus is building strength for 2023. The six-times MotoGP World Champion tried two different chassis today and also used new seat-hump aero, tried for the first time during Thai GP practice at the start of this month. This latest upgrade increases rear load, for slightly more rear grip entering and exiting corners.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) had a more difficult day than his team-mate. In the FP3 and FP4 outings he slid off three times, which didn’t help his preparation for qualifying. The 31-year-old Spaniard will therefore start the penultimate race of 2022 from the seventh row of the grid, because yesterday he received a three-place grid penalty for a riding-conduct infringement during FP1.
Lap times are currently so close in MotoGP that Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) was pushing super-hard in Q1, trying to chase his brother and other riders when he fell at Turn Eight. Although he was unhurt in the tumble he didn’t have enough time to return to his garage and take his second machine for another try.
The 26-year-old Spaniard, who on his last visit here in 2019 secured the Moto2 World Champion will therefore start from row seven. Tomorrow will be more difficult than then, not least because he must carry out a long-lap penalty, imposed for causing a collision at Phillip Island Sunday.
Honda MotoGP rider Tetsuta Nagashima (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V), who is replacing the injured Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) for the third race in a row, ended today 23rd fastest. Tomorrow’s race will only be the 30-year-old from Kanagawa’s third race in the premier class, although he has scored top-ten results here in Moto2.
The 19th race of the 20-round MotoGP season starts at 15：00, with a strong possibility of rain. After the race the paddock returns to Europe for the season finale at Valencia, Spain, on 6th November.