Track Report by Alberto Puig [Repsol Honda Team - Team Manager]
A complete Grand Prix weekend for Marc Marquez, his first pole in three years and a strong race in Japan.
I think yesterday’s pole position was very important for him, it has been a long time since he was in this position. Even if it was in the wet, which is a different circumstance to normal, being on top is a very big boost for any rider.
For the race, we knew that it wouldn’t be an easy one for him and that maybe Marc would struggle because it’s the first full race he has done since Mugello, after the issues in Aragon. We expected that his condition would drop in the race but frankly speaking he surprised us. His feeling after the race was good, of course he was lacking a bit of power, but it was not as dramatic as we were expecting. Motegi is a very demanding circuit with the heavy braking and acceleration of the track, so this is positive and shows that he is improving.
It was a difficult home race for Nakagami…
Yes, he struggled a lot this weekend and put in a lot of effort to overcome the problem and pain in his hands to perform at the Japanese Grand Prix. We knew that his condition was far from 100% but he showed a lot of courage and determination in front of the Japanese fans and Honda is grateful for the effort he has done.
How is the current situation with bike development and the path for the future?
We are trying to understand what is the best direction and path to follow. Each race brings us more information, it would be incorrect to say, ‘we know exactly what we must do,’ but we are getting closer. The situation is clear and we are checking how, where and when we must improve. Clearly no one in Honda is happy with these results, even if we had some positive points this weekend in Japan. We must keep reacting, we must keep improving.
Finally, Ai Ogura became the first Japanese rider to win his home race since Aoyama in 2006 and is very close to the top of the championship.
I think Ogura put together a really fantastic race, believe me. I am super happy for him and I have known him for many years, since he was in the Asia Talent Cup. He showed today that he can handle the pressure and how mature he is. For a Japanese rider to race here, there is a lot of extra pressure and he overcame it. When you are fighting for the championship, it is very easy to settle for a result and not take any extra risk but he wanted to win here and he went for it no matter what. This shows his character, a personality and that his mentality is that of a champion.