Joan Mir top Honda in 15th, Luca Marini last and ‘not expecting to be so far’

Joan Mir salvages 15th while new Repsol Honda team-mate Luca Marini is left 21st and last in the Qatar Sprint.

Joan Mir, Tissot sprint race, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 9 March
Joan Mir, Tissot sprint race, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 9 March

The Qatar MotoGP Sprint classification made brutal reading for Repsol Honda with Joan Mir 15th and new team-mate Luca Marini 21st and last.

In between were the LCR bikes of Johann Zarco (16th) and Takaaki Nakagami (19th).

Starting 17th, Mir was hampered by a technical issue for the opening five laps, causing a lack of engine performance and leaving the Spaniard to wonder if he would even finish the race.

But the problem then disappeared and Mir went on to pass the factory Yamaha of former Suzuki team-mate Alex Rins, then Zarco, to at least finish as the top RCV.

“In the last part of the race we were able to run in the 53 lows and I was catching the second group, which was quite good. I was able to overtake, and I finished the race with a good feeling,” said Mir.

“Our position isn’t the best, but there are positives about the feeling. I think tomorrow will give us a chance to show what we can really do, fighting close to the top ten and being there.”

Mir finished 14s behind race winner Jorge Martin but within 1.5s of KTM’s Jack Miller in tenth. The top Yamaha was Fabio Quartararo, in 12th and 1.2s ahead of Mir.

Luca Marini, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March
Luca Marini, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Repsol garage, it was a 'character building' race debut for Marini, who qualified ahead of only Franco Morbidelli and then finished 21st and last.

"A strange day speaking honestly because I was not expecting to be so far, nor were the team,” said the Italian, who set a new Qatar lap record for pole last November. “All weekend, and in the test, I was more or less with the Honda riders but today we were very far.

“First, we need to understand why because the feeling was not what it has been. I was really strong in braking but we need to improve a lot in other areas. It’s the first race we have done so there is certainly more to come and I am confident we will get there.”

Marini completed the 11 laps 25.6s from Martin and 11.5s behind Mir.

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