His teammate Pol Espargaró (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) will start the fourth round of the 21 rounds of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship from a row further back, alongside Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V).
This is the first time Márquez has returned to action since his accident during the race day warm-up session for last month’s Indonesian GP, which led to a recurrence of diplopia that saw him miss the last two races. from last season.
The 29-year-old six-time MotoGP world champion has an incredible record at COTA: seven wins from eight races, but his main goal this weekend is to regain his confidence, with 17 races still to go after the Grand Prix of the Americas of tomorrow.
He started off quite aggressively yesterday, with his bike dancing under him like he had never been out, but then settled in for the afternoon session, working with his team to adapt the all-new 2022 RC213V to this ultra-complex circuit. , with its 20 corners, more than any other MotoGP venue.
COTA is the toughest track in MotoGP, both mentally and physically, made even more so by the bumpy asphalt. Although much of the circuit was resurfaced over the winter to fix the huge undulations that made last year’s US MotoGP round a real rodeo, the track is still full of potholes, causing problems for many riders , with a lot of crashes today as the riders push to the limit. and was the victim of beatings.
Like everyone, Marquez has had some bumpy moments here, but the 29-year-old Spaniard held on to finish free practice with an excellent fourth fastest time, just over a tenth of a second off the fastest lap time. In FP4 he was second fastest, even closer to the fastest time.
However, qualifying didn’t go exactly as planned and he had to content himself with 9th time, 0.999sec off pole position. In fact, Marquez was saving the best for his last lap, but the checkered flag waved before the start of that lap, during which he hoped to get to the second row.
The 20-lap race will be a major challenge for the entire grid, but particularly for Márquez, who last raced at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix five weeks ago.
Nakagami has worked hard to further improve the front end performance of his RC213V on this track, where fast entries into the many corners are vital for a competitive lap time. The 30-year-old from Chiba was successful in his efforts, becoming only the third Honda rider to finish the first three practice sessions in the top ten and thus go straight into the Q2 session, portending a bode well.
He finished Q2 tenth quickest, just 0.016 seconds behind Márquez. Tonight he will work with his team to improve his race pace so that he can aim for another top ten finish.
His teammate Espargaró has had health problems here due to a nasty stomach bug. The 30-year-old Spaniard had a particularly difficult Friday as he was physically exhausted after a night of little sleep. He felt better today and he believed he had the speed to qualify on the front row; but he admitted that he made some minor mistakes during Q2, which ruined his performance and made him complete qualifying 12th fastest.
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) was the only Honda rider not to go straight into Q2 today. The 25-year-old Spaniard, who had a small crash in Q1, is looking for more front grip and cornering. His team will work very hard tonight and in the warm-up session tomorrow morning to find a setting that suits the driving technique of the former Moto3 and Moto2 world champion.
The Grand Prix of the Americas is the last of the four-season races outside of Europe. After tomorrow’s race, the paddock returns to the European heart of MotoGP for a series of 12 races, after which MotoGP heads east for the Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi on September 25.