Marquez Aims to Build on Impressive Points Advantage
MISANO WORLD CIRCUIT MARCO SIMONCELLI, San Marino and Riviera Di Rimini, September 15, 2019
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) goes into this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix aiming to continue the remarkable mix of speed and consistency that has helped 26-year-old Spaniard and his Honda RC213V take control of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.
From the 12 races so far this year the five-times MotoGP World Champion has scored six victories, five second-place results and one DNF, when he slid out of the lead of April's Grand Prix of the Americas.
His championship advantage now stands at 78 points, with seven races remaining, starting with Sunday's San Marino round, which is immediately followed by the following weekend's Aragon Grand Prix. MotoGP then embarks on its traditional Asian and Pacific Rim tour in Thailand, Japan, Australia and Malaysia, before returning to Europe for the season finale at Valencia, Spain, on November 17.
Even when they haven't won races this year, Marquez and his RC213V have been in the battle for victory, thrilling fans across the globe with breathtaking last-lap attacks and counter-attacks. Four of his five second-place results have had him cross the finish line less than three tenths of a second behind the race winner: 0.023 seconds in Qatar, 0.043 seconds in Italy, 0.213 seconds in Austria and 0.013 seconds in Britain. That last deficit is the fourth-closest finish in 71 years of premier-class Grand Prix racing.
This, of course, is the secret to Marquez's championship domination: the youngster and his 2019 RC213V have race-winning pace almost wherever they go. The reasons behind this are simple: great riding talent and a best-ever RC213V, which features a significant horsepower increase over last year and a more rider-friendly chassis.
HRC engineers never stop working to give Marquez and his fellow RC213V riders better-performing machines. In Austria last month Marquez debuted a carbon-fibre-coated frame, which helps to increase turning performance, a vital contributor to faster lap times.
No wonder that Honda also leads the Constructors World Championship, with the company heading for an historic 25th title in the premier class.
Marquez and most of his rivals undertook a two-day test at Misano following the British Grand Prix, so they will all commence practice on Friday with a good basic set-up.
On Sunday the former 125cc and Moto2 World Champion will aim to continue his excellent record at the Italian track, which is situated a few kilometers inland from Italy's Adriatic beach resorts. He has twice topped the MotoGP podium at Misano – in 2015 and 2017 – after winning the 125cc race in 2010 and the Moto2 race in 2011 and 2012. Last year he finished a close second to Italian rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) has been working at regaining full strength after returning from injury at the British GP three weekends ago. The three-times MotoGP king missed four rounds of the championship after sustaining injuries during practice for June's Dutch TT. He rode cautiously at Silverstone, taking 14th place at the finish. Later that week he rode at the two-day test at Misano, returning home to Lugano, Switzerland, to maximize his training time before this weekend's event.
Lorenzo has enjoyed plenty of success at Misano in the past. At the venue's 2007 MotoGP round, its first since 1993, the Spaniard won the 250cc race. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 he won the MotoGP race and has scored five further MotoGP podiums at the track, with second-place finishes in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014, plus a third place in 2016.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) comes to Misano on a strong run of form, with third, a fifth and sixth places from the last four races. He was unlucky in the fourth outing – in Austria last month – when he got taken out by another rider. That podium result in Germany was Crutchlow's second of the season and he has had podium pace at several other races.
The 33-year-old Briton has high hopes of another top-three performance this weekend, because he finished on the Misano podium last September, when he took third, less than five seconds behind Marquez.
Team-mate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) also has good form at Misano. The 27-year-old from Chiba scored three podiums at the track during his Moto2 career – in 2013, 2015 and 2016 – and recently had a positive test session at the track, during which he set the eighth-fastest lap aboard his 2018-spec RC213V.
Nakagami is enjoying a superb second season in MotoGP, with seven top-ten results so far, including a brilliant fifth at June's Italian GP.
The Misano circuit was constructed in the early 1970s and hosted its first Grand Prix in 1985. The circuit was upgraded in the early 1990s but remained unused by MotoGP for some years, finally returning to the championship in 2007, with the layout now running in clockwise direction. Misano is characterized by mostly tight corners, which place the emphasis on braking stability and machine maneuverability. The asphalt usually isn't very grippy, so riders and engineers also work hard to obtain maximum grip from their machines.
Honda riders have enjoyed plenty of success at Misano in recent years, with Marquez taking victory in 2015 and 2017 and former team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V/RC213V) winning in 2010 and 2016.
The venue is now named Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in honor of the Italian rider, who lost his life during the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix.
The contest for the Moto2 World Championship tightened up considerably at the British GP three weekends ago when points leader Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) slid out of the race while on course for his sixth victory of the year. Following the exit of Marc's younger brother the race was won by Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40 Kalex), who comes to Misano 35 points behind his countryman. Going into the British race Marquez had led the series by 43 points.
Marquez has been the star performer of Moto2 so far this season, but Fernandez is rapidly establishing a reputation for himself. The 21-year-old Spaniard achieved his first GP podium in May's Spanish GP and his first victory in June's Dutch TT.
Fernandez's second victory at Silverstone put him level on points with Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) and Jorge Navarro (Campetella Speed Up Speed Up), but he is ahead in the championship thanks to his two wins.
A further 21 points behind Fernandez, Luthi and Navarro is Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), who won his first race of 2019 in Austria last month. Binder is the first of this year's Moto2 riders to agree terms to graduate to MotoGP next season. Binder stands one point in front of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40 Kalex), who won three of this season's first four races but hasn't finished on the podium since.
This weekend Grand Prix rookie Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia, Kalex) will be riding for his third points-score in four races. The 20-year-old Thai has had an impressive start to his GP career, with three points-scoring rides so far, all the while having to learn new circuits and the new challenge of Moto2. He took his first points in Argentina, then backed that up with more points in the Czech Republic and Austria. At Silverstone he missed the points by one position and just one second.
Chantra's team-mate this weekend will be Indonesian Andi Farid Izdihar (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex), who makes his GP debut at Misano, taking the place of countryman Dimas Ekky Pratama (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) who is recovering from injury. Farid Izdihar is another up-and-coming rider from motorcycling's booming South East Asian region.
This is the 22-year-old's fifth season of international competition. He currently stands fourth overall in the Supersport class of the Asia Road Racing Championship, riding a Honda CBR600RR for the ASTRA HONDA Racing Team. In recent years Farid Izdihar has contested the Asia Dream Cup, the Asia Talent Cup and the CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship.
While Marquez and his RC213V dominate MotoGP, Honda's NSF250RW continues to lead the way in Moto3, Italian Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) goes into his second home race of the year leading the championship, 14 points ahead of Spaniard Aron Canet. NSF250RW riders currently dominate the upper reaches of the points chase, holding five of the top six places, and Honda heads the Moto3 Constructors World Championship, aiming for a third successive title success.
The San Marino GP is a milestone event for Dalla Porta, because he won his first GP at Misano last September, so he is confident of another great result this weekend. This year the 22-year-old is having his best-ever season. Consistency is his mantra in this most hectic of race series, in which one second can cover the top ten at the checkered flag. So far Dalla Porta has scored seven podium results, with one victory, five second-place results and one third-place finish.
Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) is also enjoying his greatest season so far, the 19-year-old Italian dazzling with his speed since he won his first GP victory, on home asphalt in June's Italian GP. Later that month he won again in the Netherlands and has finished his last three outings on the podium, with third place in the Czech Republic and second in Austria and Britain. Arbolino currently stands 38 points behind Dalla Porta.
Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) holds fourth overall, 15 points behind Arbolino. The 23-year-old Italian, who was born just a few minutes ride from the Misano circuit, won his first race of 2019 at May's Spanish GP and finished just 0.051 seconds off the podium last time out at Silverstone, where NSF250RW riders monopolized the top seven finishing positions.
Winner of the Silverstone race was Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW), whose second victory of 2019 moved the 21-year-old Spaniard to within four points of Antonelli in fifth overall. Next up in sixth place is John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW), winner of May's French GP.
Moto3 rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) is currently 11th overall, just one point outside the top ten, as he enjoys a sensational run of results that suggest the 18-year-old from Tokyo has a huge future in Grand Prix racing. Although Toba is learning new circuits at nearly every event, he is consistently in the points and fighting with the lead group. He has scored points in each of his last six outings, with top-six results in the Catalan, Dutch and Czech rounds.
Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) continues to work hard to regain confidence after a series of challenging races, which have put him 13th overall, 15 points behind his team-mate. The 19-year-old from Fukuoka won the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix but has struggled to regain that race-winning form at recent events. This weekend his crew will give him all the support he needs to rebuild his confidence on track.
There will be no rest for riders, crews and especially the rest of the paddock as MotoGP packs up in Italy and heads straight to MotorLand Aragon, a three-hour drive inland from the city of Barcelona.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team:
"We arrive at Misano in a good way after some strong races for us and after a productive test. During the test we were able to try many things and get a good understanding of how the Honda is working around Misano this season. I am confident for the weekend but we will face strong opposition as always, especially after the test. Our approach doesn't change, we have our own plan and we will work towards it and see what happens on Sunday."
Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda Team:
"Each day I am feeling stronger and able to train harder than the previous day and the time between races has helped. I am looking forward to getting back on the bike and seeing how I feel physically on the RC213V. Despite not completing the full test, we were able to find some good information to be able to start the weekend well. In the past Misano has been a good circuit for me so I am hopeful that this weekend we can continue to close the gap."
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda CASTROL:
"Last year we got a decent result at Misano and ended up on the podium, so we will be working to repeat that this time. When we tested at Misano a couple of weeks ago our goal was to further improve my feeling with the bike, so we tried a lot of things and worked at finding a good base setting that we can use this weekend. I never put in a really fast lap at the tests, because I wasn't focused on time attacks. Hopefully the work we did then will allow us to be fast when we need to be fast."
Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda IDEMITSU:
"We had a good test at Misano after Silverstone, during which our focus was working for this race. It's not easy to get the bike feeling right at Misano, but after two days of hard work we were much closer. As always, my LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team did a great job, which brings us into this race feeling positive. It will be a tough weekend, with hot conditions and maybe not too much grip. After my no-score at Silverstone I need to get back in the points."
Alex Marquez, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:
"I am very motivated because we did a test here two weeks ago to prepare for the race to the maximum. The truth is that it was very positive because I feel very prepared again and after a zero like Silverstone it is very important to recover confidence quickly. The objective for this weekend remains the same, to arrive as well prepared as possible for the race in which to fight for the top five and try to add the maximum number of points. It's a peculiar circuit, which I like. There is usually little grip due to the high temperatures, so I guess this year will be the same. I'm looking forward to being with the team again to put up a strong fight and make progress in the championship."
Augusto Fernandez, Flexbox HP 40:
"Our victory at Silverstone gave us a lot of energy, which we will bring with us to Misano. The whole team is doing a fantastic job with me, so I want to thank them for that. Of course, the plan is to keep working in the same direction! At Silverstone we qualified on the front row for the first time in five races. This was an important ingredient in our race victory, so we will focus on being strong in practice and also in qualifying; then try our maximum on Sunday."
Thomas Luthi, Dynavolt Intact GP:
"Misano is a really nice track. The weather can be crucial there and I hope we are lucky this time and don't get wet! I used the break after Silverstone to optimize my training and to prepare for the upcoming races. The Italians are always really fast in Misano and you can't go there without being prepared. I really want to get close up to the top again and that is my clear target for the races that are coming now. This will for sure be a lot of hard work and I hope it will pay off in the end."
Somkiat Chantra, IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia:
"Once again we go to a track that is completely new to me, so this will be another challenging weekend for me and the team – to learn the layout and also work with my team to get the best set-up for the race on Sunday. As usual I have prepared for the Misano weekend by watching videos of previous races and practices, so I can learn as much as possible. I hope for a better race than Silverstone – my target is to score points again."
Andi Farid Izdihar, IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia:
"My feeling at the moment is that I'm very happy and I want to say thanks so much to Honda for giving me this great opportunity. I am very excited and also a bit nervous because this will be my first time in the World Championships! Of course I am very motivated and I will try my best to learn the track and give my maximum on Sunday."
Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Leopard Racing:
"I cannot believe it is one year since I won my first GP, at Misano. This season has shown that we are improving step by step – bringing a lot of consistency to our results. This is so important in Moto3, because the racing is so close that you can be very fast and still finish tenth. The big thing in Moto3 is to calculate the final laps, so that you can finish the race on the podium. We have managed this at four of the last five races and this will be our target again on Sunday. Of course it would be great to win in front of the Italian fans, but most important is the championship."
Tony Arbolino, VNE Snipers Team:
"Misano – my home race! It's a particular track that I like a lot, but where it's difficult to find the right compromise with the bike. It's important to continue working in a calm manner, as we've always done, to find that compromise, session by session. We are ready to face every kind of condition, even if the weather seems looks like it will be good for the whole weekend. We'll try, as always, to get the best possible result."
Niccolo Antonelli, Sic58 Squadra Corse:
"This is my home GP and it always feels special when I race in Italy. On the other hand, our approach to the weekend will stay the same as always, but on Sunday I'll give more than 200 percent to do my best. We have had some good results recently and the aim will be to continue on this same trajectory – getting stronger and stronger along with my team."
Ai Ogura, Honda Team Asia:
"I already have some experience of Misano from the Red Bull Rookies Cup, so I hope this will help, although this will be my first time at the track on a full Moto3 bike. As always we will work on Friday and Saturday to get the best feeling and make the bike right for the race. On Sunday I want to learn from the mistakes I made during the Silverstone race to make sure I get a better result at Misano."
Kaito Toba, Honda Team Asia:
"This weekend we will try be to be strong from the beginning on Friday, working with the team to try to find a good setting for the race. As always, I will give my maximum to achieve my best potential."