Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Aragon [Spain], September 18 (ANI): Steps forward for the Repsol Honda Team in Spain go unrewarded as fine margins separate Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro from further gains on Saturday.

Conditions were again near ideal as Saturday's action began at MotorLand Aragon, temperatures steadily rising as the brisk morning faded. It was straight to work for the Repsol Honda Team as both Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro attempted to set a top-ten time. A dramatic session saw Marquez's magic elbow make a return as he saved a crash at the final corner. Unfortunately, a second moment, this time at Turn 7, couldn't be saved and the 93's chances of a top ten were dashed. Pol Espargaro was able to improve his time, but the improvements were not enough, and he too would head into Q1.

Feeling no lasting impact from his earlier fall, Marquez was able to return to the track without consequence. A busy Free Practice 4 saw the eight-time World Champion work through several setting options with his team for the future. With good information found, he and the team prepared for their first Qualifying session since Mugello. Fast out of the gate, Marquez ended the first runs of the afternoon leading the way but a yellow flag on his ultimate lap of Q1 would end any chances of moving onto Q2. Set to line up 13th on the grid, Marquez's 1'46.909 saw him miss out on a transfer spot by 0.340s.

Pol Espargaro's complicated weekend in Aragon continued throughout Saturday, making improvements but constantly chasing the last half a second to join the fight for the top ten. A crash at Turn 5 towards the end of Q1 would add further complications to the day for 44. Unharmed but unable to improve his time beyond a 1'47.511, Espargaro will line up 18th on the grid for Sunday's race.

Sunday's Aragon GP will take place over 23 laps when the lights go out at 14:00 Local Time. Round 15 starts the final push of the year, the end of the 2022 season in sight as the paddock prepares for six races in eight weeks.

"FP3 was a bit of a complicated session and we had our first crash since returning, but there were still some positives. It was nice to make an amazing save like this again and then in the afternoon, I was feeling better. In the mornings I am struggling to find the rhythm and ride well at the moment, but then we get better - it's normal. I don't have any target for the race, it's only about seeing what we can do and how the body reacts after 23 laps. I am looking forward to it!" said Marc Marquez of Honda after finishing 13th on the pole.

"It was another difficult day today and we were chasing the grip again. The fall in Q1 hurt us because I think we could have gained some places if we finished this lap. Starting this far back always makes for a complicated race and especially here in Aragon, the first few corners can be critical. Let's see what we can do in the race, and let's see how the grip is for the race," said Pol Espargaro of Honda after finishing 18th on the pole. (ANI)

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