The start of the Qatar Grand Prix, the inaugural round of the 2022 MotoGP season, gave fans an image they had been accustomed to for years but hadn’t seen since Marc Marquez’s now famous injury at Jerez in 2020. Started third and sixth respectively, Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro reached the first corners in first and second position, with a frenzied pace that surprised the Ducatis above all.
Espargaro took the lead, setting the pace for many laps. Both were conditioned by the choice of tires and in the final Pol gave the position not only to Enea Bastianini, but also to Brad Binder. However he got a good result for the team, with the third position, while Marquez finished fifth after running out of tires.
This result allowed the Repsol Honda team to collect 27 points (16 from Espargaro and 11 from Marquez), a situation that places the Japanese team in first position in the team championship, something that hadn’t happened since the end of 2019. On that occasion, in the final phase of the world championship and with a small contribution from Jorge Lorenzo (5 points against Marquez’s 120 in the last five races), Honda had managed to overcome the pair formed by Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, conquering what until now is the last title.
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
In 2020, with Marquez out of the game, HRC hit rock bottom, just over 100 points and finishing at over 200 points for the Suzuki team, champion that year. Honda only overtook Avinita and Aprilia, ending its worst season in history, for the first time without a win.
In 2021, with the return of Marc Marquez (three victories despite one year of inactivity and five fewer races), Honda ended the season in fifth place in the world championship with 250 points. This year, with the eight-time world champion apparently recovered and with an Espargaro in the year of truth, she has already managed to conquer a podium and put both drivers in the top 5 on a track more favorable to rivals.
Furthermore, Honda took advantage of the fact that Bastianini and Binder’s teammates, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Miguel Oliveira respectively, did not collect points, with the Portuguese ending up on the ground. This allowed the HRC team to place itself at the top of the team standings, with two points more than the Gresini Racing team.
If Honda hadn’t been leading the championship since the end of 2019, it hadn’t started a season ahead of everyone since 2018. At Losail, in 2019, Andrea Dovizioso beat Marquez in a heart attack finish and Danilo Petrucci finished in sixth position, ahead of Lorenzo, 13th. This allowed Ducati to take the lead in the riders, teams and constructors standings. To reach HRC’s dominance in the team standings after the first race, we need to go back to 2018, when Dovi once again beat Marc in a duel. However, Dani Pedrosa, Honda rider at the time, finished fifth and Lorenzo, who wore the Ducati colors that year, finished 12th. This allowed HRC to leave Qatar with a 4-point lead over the Reds.
MotoGP also considers the manufacturers’ ranking, whose scoring system consists in taking into consideration only the rider for each individual manufacturer who has obtained the most points in a race (in this case Bastianini for Ducati, Binder for KTM and Espargaro for Honda) . this means that the Japanese are third in this ranking.
However, Honda’s feelings were very positive in this first race, as I stated from Espargaro: “Much of today’s glory is thanks to the Repsol Honda team, for the hard work they did during the winter in Japan to build this new bike and allow me to show my true potential ”. Marquez echoed him: “I am happy for Pol and I am happy for the Repsol Honda team. This result shows all the work they have done and the potential of this new bike ”. Honda has reason to smile and the numbers allow us to recover some hope.
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