Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) rode to a hard-fought seventh-place finish at Sepang today, seven days after he took a super-close second place at last Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion always knew that this racetrack would be a bigger challenge for him and his RC213V and he wasn’t wrong, even though he dazzled with his magic yesterday, qualifying third fastest in spectacular style. Marquez’s talent was enough to make the difference over a single lap but he knew that 20 race laps of the first Malaysian Grand Prix since 2019 would be a far greater challenge.
Nonetheless Marquez gave it his all as always, using another new aerodynamics update to his RC213V – four small winglets on the seat hump, designed to increase load and therefore rear grip for slightly better corner entry and exit performance. All this is part of Honda’s push to use the final few races to evaluate new developments for next year, when Marquez should be fully recovered from the surgery to his right arm which forced him to miss six races earlier this season.
Marquez got a great start from the front row of the grid to complete the first lap in fourth place. He stayed fourth for several laps, then found himself in a battle with several other riders. He started the final lap in sixth place, but lost that position to Japanese GP winner Jack Miller before they crossed the finish line.
Marquez was happy enough with his result, fully aware that he is still building strength in his right arm. The 29-year-old Spaniard now has one race of 2022 remaining – the Valencia Grand Prix two weeks from now – and then he can focus on a busy fitness regime, which should take him to the first race of 2023, in Portugal next March, at 100% strength and ready to fight for a seventh MotoGP crown.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) scored points for the fifth consecutive Grand Prix, bringing home lots of data and information for his Repsol Honda crew. The 31-year-old Spaniard finished in 14th position, just over two seconds behind the 11th place finisher and only four seconds outside the top ten. The former Moto2 World Champion had started from 20th on the grid, after a three-position penalty for a riding-conduct infringement during FP1, so he made good forward progress during the race.
Marquez’s younger brother Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) was given a long-lap penalty for an incident in the preceding Australian GP, which complicated his race. The 26-year-old Spaniard, who won the 2019 Moto2 World Championship here, therefore finished outside the points, in 17th position.
Conditions were slippery and tricky in the tropical heat this weekend, with many riders sliding off during practice, qualifying and the race. Honda MotoGP rider Tetsuta Nagashima (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) fell at around one-quarter distance, his first DNF since he took over the RC213V machines of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) at last month’s Thai GP.
Nakagami, who is recovering from surgery to fix right-hand injuries sustained during last month’s Aragon GP, will undergo medical tests in the next few days to decide whether he is fit enough to return to action at the Valencia season finale.
The MotoGP paddock now returns to Europe for the 20th and last race of the 2022 season at Valencia on 6th November.