The odds were therefore stacked against Marquez ahead of the ninth race of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship. The 26-year-old Spaniard missed yesterday’s qualifying sessions due to the Turn 14 fall, which left him badly battered and bruised. Thus he had to start from the back of the grid.
Yet despite pain in his left wrist, right arm, back and neck, the former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion dug in to produce one of his best performances of the season. Despite losing time while taking avoiding action due to a multi-rider crash at Turn One he managed to pass five riders on the first lap, before gaining another seven positions by lap ten to finish tenth for his second-best result of 2022.
This afternoon’s 24-lap race was the most challenging of the year so far for the MotoGP grid. Not only did track temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius, making this a serious physical test for riders, the Barcelona-Catalunya surface has some of MotoGP’s lowest grip levels, so the race placed a major emphasis on tire conservation.
Marquez was one of only two riders to choose Michelin’s soft rear tire option, and he managed the low grip conditions well to sit comfortably ahead of a group of three riders just a few seconds behind him.
Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) had a disappointing home GP, crossing the finish line in 17th, due to rear-tire issues. It had all looked so promising for the 30-year-old, born in nearby Granollers. He got a brilliant getaway from tenth on the grid and was fifth at the end of lap one.
But as early as the third lap Espargaro started struggling with a lack of rear grip, leaving him unable to accelerate strongly out of the track’s 14 corners. Despite struggling to maintain a good pace the former Moto2 World Champion never once considered giving in and made sure he finished the race. The tire issue is now being investigated by Honda and MotoGP tire supplier Michelin.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V) was another Honda rider who was out of luck. The 30-year-old from Chiba got a great launch from 12th on the grid and had gained eight places on the run down to Turn One. However, he fell while braking for the corner, also taking out two other riders.
The two-times Moto2 race winner took a heavy impact to his head in the tumble. He was taken to hospital, conscious, where it was confirmed he had suffered no serious head injuries in the incident. Although he has pain in his right shoulder, x-rays suggest he has suffered no fractures. Nakagami will stay in hospital tonight and won’t take part in tomorrow’s post-race test.
Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) also had a short race, the 32-year-old German crashing out at Turn Ten on the first lap. Bradl was making his third race appearance of the year, standing in for Honda’s six-times MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V), who is recovering in the USA following successful surgery on his right arm.
Honda’s four MotoGP riders now look forward to Monday’s one-day test at Barcelona-Catalunya. After that they have ten days to rest ahead of the German and Dutch rounds, which will be held on back-to-back weekends on June 19 and June 26.