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 damp 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 delay Qualifying.
But it was worth the wait for Marc Marquez, who demonstrated his unrivalled skills in the wet as he stormed Q2 to secure pole. At Motegi in 2019, 1071 days ago, 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 by 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 undoubtedly provided a welcome boost in morale to Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team, but everyone involved is 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.
It 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 could not 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.
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“Today is a fantastic 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 essential to get these more minor achievements. If it’s dry tomorrow, we will return to our reality, but no matter what, I am sure I will enjoy the first laps. I want to thank HRC and the Repsol Honda Team for continuing to support and believe in me. We are coming.”
“Today, I was feeling good in the morning before the crash. It can happen in the wet because the conditions constantly change, and the line is minimal.
The distance between a good lap and a crash is minimal 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 much potential, but let’s see what happens on Sunday. Congratulations to Marc and the whole team. He did something impressive today.”