1071 days later – Marquez returns to pole

Motegi, September 24, 2022:  Marc Marquez will head the grid for his 150th MotoGP race after conquering a weather-hit Saturday in Motegi. Espargaro to start 11th.

Wet weather settled onto Mobility Resort Motegi overnight and left the track soaking, validating the Repsol Honda Team’s aggressive Friday strategy. The wet track meant that no riders would improve their times in the morning session and both Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro advanced directly to Q2 for the first time since the French GP earlier in the year. Heavy rain would force the cancellation of Free Practice 3 and delays to Qualifying.

But it was worth the wait for Marc Marquez who demonstrated his unrivaled skills in the wet as he stormed Q2 to secure pole. It was at Motegi in 2019, 1071 days ago, that the #93 last started from pole position for a MotoGP race. The 1’55.214 lap in Q2 marks a significant moment in Marquez’s continued recovery and shows that he has lost none of his speed while injured. Marc was welcomed into Parc Ferme by Koji Watanabe, who is attending the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time at HRC President.

For the 91st time in his career and the 63rd occasion in the MotoGP class, Marquez will start with no one but the safety car in front of him for the Grand Prix. A positive Saturday has certainly provided a welcome boost in morale to Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team, but everyone involved are keeping expectations realistic for the 24-lap race. As in Aragon, the primary objective of the race is to work on improving the conditions of Marquez’s arm and further developing the Honda RC213V.

This is the first pole position for the Repsol Honda Team since Silverstone 2021 with Pol Espargaro. The #44 had a mixed day in Japan, a crash during the morning session hiding his wet-weather speed. Unharmed in the crash, Espargaro headed directly into Q2 as the rain continued to fall. The change in conditions meant that Espargaro was unable to capture his form from earlier and will start 11th, ahead of championship challenger Bagnaia.

With Iker Lecouna clinching a debut pole in WorldSBK, it marks the first time Honda machines have claimed pole in both MotoGP and WorldSBK since October 16, 2011.

The Japanese Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 15:00 Local Time.

Marc Marquez (Pole) 1’55.214

“Today is an amazing day, we must celebrate and enjoy it! I knew I could be fast in these conditions, and I had to take the maximum profit from it. It’s good to return to pole, to be on the front row at Honda’s home circuit – they deserve it because they are working very hard. Of course, it is just a pole position and it is in the wet – but coming from where we are, it’s really important to get these smaller achievements. If it’s dry tomorrow, we will come back to our reality but no matter what I am sure I will enjoy the first laps. I want to say thank you to HRC and to the Repsol Honda Team for continuing to support and believe in me, we are coming.”

 

Pol Espargaro (11th1’57.354

“Today I was feeling good in the morning before the crash. It can happen in the wet because the conditions are always changing and the line is very small. The distance between a good lap and a crash is very small in the wet, but still I felt like I could be fast in Qualifying. Then everything changed in the afternoon with the conditions and the bike wasn’t feeling like before, I even stopped to change the rear tyre to see if that was the problem but it didn’t change anything. It’s a shame because we had a lot of potential, but let’s see what happens on Sunday. Congratulations to Marc and the whole team, he did something impressive today.”

 

Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying Results

 

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 MARQUEZ MARC 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’55.214
2 ZARCO JOHANN 5 FRA Pramac Racing Ducati 0.208
3 BINDER BRAD 33 RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 0.323
4 VINALES MAVERICK 12 SPA Aprilia Racing Aprilia 0.406
5 MARTIN JORGE 89 SPA Pramac Racing Ducati 0.472
6 ESPARGARO ALEIX 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Aprilia 0.557
7 MILLER JACK 43 AUS Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 0.570
8 OLIVEIRA MIGUEL 88 POR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 0.681
9 QUARTARARO FABIO 20 FRA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1.112
10 MARINI LUCA 10 ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 1.140
11 ESPARGARO POL 44 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 2.140
12 BAGNAIA FRANCESCO 62 ITA Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 2.159
13 BEZZECCHI MARCO 73 ITA Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati 0.634 Q1
14 MORBIDELLI FRANCO 21 ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 0.706
15 BASTIANINI ENEA 23 ITA Team Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 0.830
16 DI GIANNANTONIO FABIO 49 ITA Team Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati 1.132
17 MARQUEZ ALEX 73 SPA LCR Honda Honda 1.278
18 RINS ALEX 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1.356
19 NAGASHIMA TETSUTA 45 JPN Team HRC Honda 1.929
20 GARDNER REMY 87 AUS Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 1.988
21 TSUDA TAKUYA 85 JPN Suzuki Test Team Suzuki 2.487
22 FERNANDEZ RAUL 25 SPA Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 2.527
23 CRUTCHLOW CAL 35 GBR WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 2.815
24 BINDER DARRYN 40 RSA WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha 2.992
25 NAKAGAMI TAKAAKI 30 JPN LCR Honda Honda 3.417
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