Honda’s six-time MotoGP world champion, who is still recovering from recent surgery on his right arm and is suffering from a bad cold this weekend which almost caused him to lose his voice, was delighted with his performance, hitting the tank of fuel from his RC213V and waving to the vast Valencia crowd as he raced through his slowdown lap.
Yesterday Marquez and his crew focused on evaluating various parts and settings, ahead of Tuesday’s vital post-season test here, before going into race mode for today. Even so, the 29-year-old Spaniard was expecting a second- or third-row start after finishing free practice this morning in sixth place. Hence his joy after his superb qualifying lap this afternoon, just two tenths of a second from pole position.
Marquez therefore knows he has a chance of a podium finish in tomorrow’s race, the 20th and final of 2022, the longest season in more than seven decades of motorcycling world championships. He would also like to claim Honda’s first MotoGP victory of the year, but he knows it won’t be easy. However, his performance record since returning to racing at the Aragon GP last month has been overwhelmingly positive, with pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix in September and a thrilling second place at the Australian GP last month. , just 0.186 seconds from the winner. This result gave Marquez his 100th first class podium.
All the know-how that Marques has learned during these last races has been passed on to Honda engineers who are currently working on the 2023 RC213V prototype.
The other three Honda riders had two more complicated days of preparation for the Valencia GP.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) will start his last race with Honda from the fifth row of the grid after setting the 15th fastest qualifying lap of the day. The 26-year-old Spaniard’s grid position underscored the incredibly tight competition in the MotoGP class, as he was only six-tenths of a second slower than his older brother and just eight-tenths off pole.
It was always going to be a difficult weekend for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V), who is contesting his first race since the Japanese Grand Prix, after which he had surgery for a right hand injury sustained during the GP precedent in Aragon. , Spain.
The 30-year-old from Chiba underwent a fitness test ahead of his return to confirm he is fit to ride but not yet at his best. Nakagami, who has fought for the podium in previous MotoGP visits to Valencia, will start from 24th place. He had qualified 21st, but was handed a three-position grid penalty, imposed for a driving infraction during this morning’s FP3 outing.
Marquez’s former team-mate Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) also had a tough day, slipping off his RC213V in Q2 which obviously compromised his qualifying performance. The 31-year-old Spaniard will therefore start his last race with Honda from 21st on the grid, promoted one place by Nakagami’s penalty. His pace had been stronger in FP1, FP2 and FP3, which he finished 17th, and was even quicker in FP4, when the riders were working on race pace, finishing that outing fourth fastest.
After tomorrow’s races, the MotoGP paddock remains in Valencia for two more days before separating for the winter. Pre-season testing for the 2023 21-round season which will include 42 races (21 sprint races on Saturday and 21 GP races on Sunday) will begin in Sepang, Malaysia in early February. The Portuguese GP opens the season on March 26.