Nakagami Fights For Top-Ten Finish In Termas Sprint
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) was Honda’s top finisher in today’s MotoGP sprint race at Termas de Río Hondo, the 31-year-old from Chiba fighting for a top-ten finish in the thrilling 12-lap dash.
The day was complicated for the entire MotoGP grid, with rain starting to fall in this morning’s free-practice session and intensifying as riders and teams readied themselves for the Q1 and Q2 qualifying sessions. By the time the sprint race started several hours later the track was fully dry.
Nakagami was 11th fastest in Q2. The track was wet but drying fast, with some riders risking slick tyres at the very end of the 15 minutes, while Nakagami stayed out with rain tyres.
He started the sprint strongly, completing the first lap in ninth place. From there he did everything he could to move forward but didn’t quite have the pace and had to be happy with an 11th-place finish. Although that position doesn’t gain him any points from the sprint race, it puts him in a positive mood for tomorrow’s 25-lap Grand Prix race, when points are awarded down to 15th.
Most importantly, Nakagami believes the performance of his RC213V has improved since last weekend’s season-opening Portuguese GP, which proves that Honda engineers are working in the right direction.
Alex Rins (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) finished his third MotoGP race with Honda – following last weekend’s season-opening sprint and GP races at Portimao, Portugal – in 15th place. The result was something of a disappointment for the 27-year-old Spaniard, who had shown promising speed in Friday practice, ending the day inside the top ten. Like Nakagami he gets another chance to prove himself tomorrow in the full-distance race.
Today was especially tough for Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who, like Nakagami and Rins, stayed with rain tyres in qualifying. That put the 25-year-old Spaniard at the back of the grid, with a lot of work to do in the sprint race. Unfortunately his efforts to push towards the front weren’t rewarded. On the vey first lap he fell from his RC213V and was taken to the medical centre. Initial checks revealed no major injuries, but he was transferred to hospital in Santiago del Estero for further examination.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) is absent from Termas, recovering from the injuries he sustained when he crashed out of last weekend’s season-opening Portuguese GP. Honda’s six-times MotoGP king broke a finger in the tumble and expects to return at the Grand Prix of the Americas in the USA on 16th April.
Tomorrow’s MotoGP Grand Prix is the second GP of 2023, which is the 75th season of motorcycling’s World Championships and the longest-ever, with 21 rounds, ending with the Valencia GP on 26th November. Next stop for the MotoGP circus is the Grand Prix of the Americas.