Marquez tumbles, Rins Tenth In Honda MotoGP Debut
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) started this afternoon’s season-opening Portuguese Grand Prix from pole position, with great hopes of fighting for a podium finish at the start of MotoGP’s 75th season.
However, the six-times MotoGP king’s ambitions ended on lap three of the 25-lap race when he locked his front tyre as he braked for Turn Three. This pushed him into Jorge Martin, which triggered a collision with Miguel Oliveira. Both Marquez and Oliveira fell heavily. Oliveira was battered and bruised but otherwise OK, while Marquez suffered a suspected to the first metacarpal of his right hand. He is undergoing further checks in advance of the next race, which takes place in Argentina this coming Sunday. After the accident he immediately apologised to Oliveira and his team.
Marquez’s pole position was his 101st since his first, achieved in the 125cc World Championship at the French Grand Prix in May 2009. Yesterday afternoon he finished a brilliant third in MotoGP’s first-ever sprint race, staged over half Grand Prix distance.
With the 30-year-old Spaniard out of the main race the first Honda rider to take the chequered flag was Alex Rins (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V), who finished tenth in his 100th MotoGP start. This was the first MotoGP ride with Honda for the 27-year-old Spaniard who made his premier-class debut in the 2017 Qatar Grand Prix.
Tenth place is far from Rins’ real ambition aboard his RC213V, but this was a solid start to his 2023 season, gathering plenty of data and information with the LCR Honda team, which will help him make further steps in Argentina and beyond. He knows he needs to work at improving his straight-line speed, because if he can do that he will be able to get close enough to his rivals so he can overtake at the next corner. Nevertheless, his race pace today wasn’t so bad – his average lap time was only four tenths of a second slower than the winner’s which bodes well as he works to further adapt to his RC213V and fine-tune the bike to his liking.
Marquez’s new team-mate Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) should have finished further up the order but the 25-year-old Spaniard had to take a long-lap penalty for an incident in the sprint race. The 2020 MotoGP World Champion had qualified 14th and had high hopes of substantially improving on that performance this afternoon, but the time he lost taking his penalty dropped him to 11th at the finish. On the other hand, today’s race was the longest run he’s done on the RC213V, so he learned plenty which will help him improve his speed at upcoming races.
One place and only half a second behind Mir came Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V), who did well to better his qualifying performance by six positions. The 31-year-old from Chiba chose the soft rear tyre and worked hard to find a good rhythm by the middle of the race, which he maintained until the end.
Despite a super-busy first weekend of 2023, with an all-new format, due to the addition of the sprint race, riders and teams have no chance to rest and are already heading south west on a long flight to South America, where practice for the Argentine Grand Prix will start on Friday morning.