Marquez battles through Q1 for third row
A slide in the last corner is all that separated Marc Marquez from the first and the third rows of the grid as he and Espargaro battled it out at a blazing Buriram.
Relentless sun replaced the constant Thai rain at the Chang International Circuit, making for an extremely physically demanding day of action on Saturday.
A small moment in the last corner during Free Practice 3 saw Marquez miss a spot in the combined top ten and a direct ticket to Q2 by only 0.007s. The eight-time World Champion dug deep in Q1 to find the lap time exactly when it was needed to advance through. Moving from FP4 to Q1 to Q2 saw Marquez’s team work in perfect unison to change the setup of the Honda RC213V for the evolving conditions. Marquez calmly waited for the perfect moment in Q2 and strung together a lap which looked set to challenge for the front row but a near crash at the final corner ended his chances.
The #93 remains optimistic about the work done on Saturday, feeling more competitive and able to ride in a more natural way as his condition continues to improve. Marquez will line up in the middle of the third row for Sunday’s race, a Grand Prix he has twice claimed victory at.
Pol Espargaro endured a frustrating and disappointing day in Thailand, unable to make the improvements he needed to challenge for a Q2 spot. Rear grip continues to be the area holding back the #44. When the track has grip, as shown during testing and in Qatar, Espargaro and the Honda are able to consistently run inside the top five. He and the team will continue to do all that is possible to improve their on-track performance.
In Moto2, Honda Team Asia’s Somkiat Chantra made history to become the first Thai rider to start from pole position. The home hero will be one to watch tomorrow in the build-up to the MotoGP race.
Racing around the Chang International Circuit’s 4.6 kilometres is set to begin at 15:00 local Time. Running over 26 laps, the Thai Grand Prix is set to be a thrilling race no matter the conditions as the Repsol Honda Team aim to hunt down their rivals ahead.
Marc Marquez (Eighth) 1’30.133
“The final result is a bit less than we were aiming for today, but looking at the positives – I was able to start riding how I want and I was able to really push the Honda. In Qualifying I had a big moment which ended our best lap, but we know what is going on and how we can fix it. Also in Free Practice 3 at the last corner I had a moment which meant we went to Q1, so it was a bit of a knock on. But we keep getting experience and testing ourselves more and more. Tomorrow’s race will be a bit interesting, we need a good start to make up some positions because our pace is good but overtaking can be tricky.”
Pol Espargaro (19th) 1’30.641
“Well, there’s not much to say about today. We are having our issues and we are working to solve them. It’s clear it hasn’t been an easy weekend but we are not going to give up, I will keep on trying every time I get on the bike. It will be a very long race tomorrow if it’s wet or dry so a lot is possible. We will see what happens when the lights go out.”