Marquez to start from sixth as 'impossible' yellow flags deny Bagnaia

By Sports Desk April 17, 2021

Marc Marquez will start from sixth on his MotoGP return, but there was drama and controversy at the front of the grid in Portuguese Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

Six-time champion Marquez will race this week for the first time since the 2020 season opener.

The Repsol Honda superstar broke the humerus in his right arm in that event in Jerez and failed in his bid to make a swift comeback, instead watching the remainder of the campaign from the sidelines as Joan Mir claimed his crown.

Marquez has taken precautions at the start of the new MotoGP year, too, missing the first two races, but he is back in action at the Algarve International Circuit.

His previous appearance in Portugal, at Estoril in Moto2, ended in victory in 2012.

Still recovering his fitness, Marquez said: "Tomorrow I'll suffer. But then next week I can recover, then Jerez be a little bit stronger."

A solid Q2 time of one minute and 39.121 seconds was sixth-fastest to ensure a competitive Sunday start, although Marquez would have only made seventh had Francesco Bagnaia's sensational time not been struck off.

Bagnaia, who claimed a first career pole at the season opener, believed he was set to start from the front of the grid again after shattering the track record. The Italian already has three fastest laps over the past two seasons.

But the factory Ducati rider passed through a yellow flag zone following Miguel Oliveira's crash in completing a 1:38.494 lap.

Fabio Quartararo was the beneficiary when that effort was cancelled, promoted to pole as Bagnaia fumed.

"For sure [the flag position is a problem], because you are coming from the downhill and the yellow flag was on the right side," said Bagnaia, whose strong start to the season has included 26 points from two races. He had 47 from 11 in 2020.

"I was already leaning for the corner and preparing for the corner, so it was impossible to see my side.

"[Luca] Marini, who was behind me, said to me the same. He also didn't see the yellow flags, so it was impossible."

Quartararo will be looking to protect his new position, having only finished on the podium in four of his past 16 races but won on all four occasions.


Provisional classification

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Yamaha) 1:38.862
2. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.089s
3. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.129s
4. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.199s
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.241s
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.259s
7. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.307s
8. Luca Marini (Esponsorama) +0.524s
9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.536s
10. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) +0.583s
11. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.620s
12. Maverick Viñales (Monster Yamaha) +0.945s

Related items

  • Bagnaia apologises for last-lap Motegi crash Bagnaia apologises for last-lap Motegi crash

    Francesco Bagnaia apologised to his team after a last-lap crash at the Grand Prix of Japan struck a blow to his MotoGP title hopes.

    The Italian was going all out to try and pass championship leader Fabio Quartararo in Motegi on Sunday, but found himself in the gravel following a costly mistake.

    Quartararo finished eighth, extending his lead over Bagnaia to 18 points with four rounds to go following a race that was won by Jack Miller.

    Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi revealed Bagnaia was quick to hold his hands up for his error.

    "He has already said that he's sorry for the mistake he made," Tardozzi told BT Sport.

    "He was not able to accelerate out of the corner like the other Ducatis. We need to know why. His front tyre overheated so he could not brake hard.

    "When it cooled down he was able to recover and gain something on the brakes."

    Tardozzi says Bagnaia needed to think of the bigger picture.

    "Yes. The goal was obvious." he added.

    "You start the year trying to win as many races as possible. But at a certain point you have to think about the championship.

    "You look to [the other] contender. Since Aragon, we look to Fabio every week. Losing two points is better than losing eight points."

    Fellow title contender Aleix Espargaro also endured a nightmare, starting from the pits rather than sixth place as he had to change his bike before the start due to a technical issue and finished way back in 16th.

    Espargaro said: "They made a mistake, and they didn't remove the fuel-saving map which doesn't allow you to go over 4-5,000 RPM or more than 100k per hour.

    "I tried everything, but it was not working."

    He added: "I changed bikes in the pits, but the second bike had the soft rear tyre [instead of the medium] and I can't ride with that tyre.

    "I knew it from the beginning. The bike was just pushing the front. I was also very nervous and making a lot of mistakes, so I decided to stay out on track just to wait for a red flag or whatever. But it didn't arrive."

  • Bagnaia suffers last-gasp crash as Miller storms to victory in Japan Bagnaia suffers last-gasp crash as Miller storms to victory in Japan

    Jack Miller stormed to his first victory of the season and Francesco Bagnaia's MotoGP title hopes suffered a blow when he crashed on the last lap of the Grand Prix of Japan.

    Ducati rider Miller dominated a dramatic race on a dry Sunday in Motegi to the chequered flag, with Brad Binder second and Jorge Martin edging out Marc Marquez to take his place on the podium.

    Fabio Quartararo could only finish eighth, but it proved to be a good day for the championship leader as title rival Bagnaia ended up in the gravel when he tried to pass the Frenchman from ninth place.

    That costly mistake left Quartararo leading by 18 points with four rounds to go, with third-placed Aleix Espargaro having endured the nightmare of starting from the pits rather than six place as he had to change his bike before the start due to technical issue and finished way back in 16th.

    Marquez claimed his first pole for three years on a wet Saturday, but it was Binder who got off to a dream start as he bolted from third on the grid to hit the front.

    Martin then passed Binder, but Miller took the lead with 22 laps to go and never looked like losing it in a brilliant ride from the Australian.

    There was a yellow flag after Takuya Tsuda retired with his bike on fire in his homeland and Marquez was scenting a 100th podium in the premier class in his 150th race when he moved ahead of Miguel Oliveira into fourth place.

    Binder then passed Martin late on to take second before Bagnaia paid the price for pushing a little too hard on the last lap, missing out on points in a stunning finale.

    Miller, who started in seventh spot, eased to his fourth MotoGP victory and eight-time world champion Marquez had to settle for an impressive fourth spot in his second race back following a fourth operation on his right arm.

  • Marquez lifted by first pole in three years at wet Motegi Marquez lifted by first pole in three years at wet Motegi

    Marc Marquez savoured his first pole position for three years at the Grand Prix of Japan but is realistic about his chances of winning the race on Sunday.

    Marquez only returned following a three-month absence in the last round at Aragon after undergoing a fourth operation on his right arm.

    The Repsol Honda rider was back in business on a wet Saturday in Motegi, where there was a 90-minute delay to the schedule due to heavy rain before the Spaniard clocked a fastest lap of one minute, 55.214 seconds to take his first pole for 1,071 days.

    Johann Zarco took second place behind the six-time MotoGP champion, with Brad Binder securing third for a race that is forecast to be run in drier conditions.

    Championship leader Fabio Quartararo could only qualify in ninth, with Aleix Espargaro the best placed of the title contenders in sixth and Francesco Bagnaia back in 12th.

    Marquez was thrilled to finally put himself at the front of the grid and hopes his exploits can give his team a lift, but knows it will be a different story come race day.

    He said: "I'm really happy to be back in pole position. It's only pole position, it's in wet, but in the situation we are in right now with team right now, it's really good news for us.

    "We need the small achievements, we need the motivations. I'm happy, it was the time to do it. I feel like in FP2 the lap time was coming and if it's wet in the afternoon I have a big chance.

    "That's what I did, I tried to attack and I did a good lap, I didn't exaggerate but it was enough to be on pole position. Tomorrow will be a different story, but today we must be happy."

    Enea Bastianini's hopes of stepping up a title challenge were rocked by a crash in Q1. He is set to start 15th.

     

    PROVISIONAL GRID

    1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) – 1:55.214
    2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.208s
    3. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +0.323s
    4. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia) +0.406s
    5. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.472s
    6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.557s
    7. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.570s
    8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +0.681s
    9. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +1.112s
    10. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +1.140s

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