Track Report by Tetsuhiro Kuwata [HRC Director]
What was the strategy for the Portimao race?
The strategy with Marc Marquez was to try and make a good start and keep his strength for the end of the race. We knew it would be a very long race for him after a lot of time without racing. He did a great job, a massive effort during all of the 25 laps of the race. We are so proud of him.
Pol Espargaro had to start again from somewhat behind. His goal was to make a great start and try to do a similar job as in Qatar, where he was riding with same pace as the leaders. But unfortunately, he had to retire after five laps. Takaaki Nakagami, who was injured after Friday’s crash, fought like a warrior to finish the race and get some points. We also saw a consistent ride from Alex Marquez after a difficult first pair of races.
Positive points and negative points after race?
We have seen Marc again on the bike, it’s been his and our main goal over the past months. This is the most positive point of the weekend and maybe of the year so far. He has done a great job, starting in sixth position, finishing seventh and only 13 seconds behind the winner, we know how hard it has been for him and the value of this weekend to him, to the team, to Honda and to fans of MotoGP. Also, Alex Marquez’s result has been a positive as he returned to the top 10 and how Taka was able to finish the race after his crash on Friday was also a bright point.
Unfortunately, the negative point has been Pol’s retirement. He had a mechanical problem after five laps and couldn’t show his progress with our machine.
The view from pit wall during race?
We were so excited to see Marc for the first time this year and we had no doubt about his approach to the race. He started fighting, trying to stay in front, but for sure he felt tired and finally he finished and earned nine championship points which will be very useful.
Inside story apart from official comments?
It’s been a special weekend for Honda to see Marc return. He knew how to handle this first Grand Prix after nine months together with his team and those involved have done a good job to do what needed to be done. I want to thank all Repsol Honda Team and HRC Staff for their patience and dedication and now we can focus on the next chapter in Jerez in two weeks. And for sure thanks to Marc for what he has done again.