How long has Marc Márquez been in the Honda Theater?

“We won’t be able to fight for the world championship with this bike in 2023,” a disgruntled Marc Márquez said in November. When will he lose patience with Honda? Maybe even before the end of the contract?

The Honda superstar finally wants to become world champion again after three failed years. However, in recent months Marc Márquez has repeatedly leveled his criticism at Honda because this year’s RC213V was not competitive in all areas, whether in qualifying or race pace.

The Spaniard still has three MotoGP victories in 2021, despite the twisted right arm. He only managed one podium in the 2022 season – second place at the turbulent Australian GP at Phillip Island.

After the Mugello GP in America in early June, Marc Márquez underwent his fourth operation on his upper right arm. He then only returned to motorcycling at Misano testing in early September, but attended the Austrian GP at Spielberg in August. There he said, “Honda needs to fundamentally change its approach.”

Since then, Marc has presented Ducati and the other European factories as models of technical innovation and exemplary speed of development.

He also knows that Honda, for example, moved Formula 1 engine development to Milton Keynes in England six years ago, partly because of the shorter distances.

Honda executives were fond of recently insisting that the pandemic had hampered development. But Suzuki and Yamaha have dominated the MotoGP World Championship in 2020 and 2021 – and also scored victories in 2022.

59-time MotoGP winner Marc Márquez would not have opted for arm surgery midway through the racing season in May if Honda had been competitive. But at Mugello he managed to finish tenth in style. And he knew it: there are no promising new technology updates in sight for the next few months.

In fact, the Honda RC213V remained technically largely unchanged until Misano and the return of the superstar.

As a result, the rest of the HRC drivers, such as Pol Espargaró, Alex Márquez and Taka Nakagami, grew increasingly angry.

The Japanese only started criticizing HRC in September, after his MotoGP contract was extended and Ai Ogura was sentenced to another Moto2 season.

Test and reserve rider Stefan Bradl also didn’t keep his criticism of Honda behind the mountain. Especially after the home GP at Sachsenring, where Honda failed to concede a point in the premier class for the first time in 40 years. Three riders retired, Bradl burned his feet due to insufficient air supply on the hot chassis.

“I wonder why I didn’t jump into the pits,” the Bavarian said angrily.

After second place at the Australian GP: “We’re running out of time”

Marc Márquez managed only one highlight of the season with second place at Phillip Island.

A week later he experienced the next disappointment with place 7 in Sepang. “We need more than one stage of development,” he then stressed. He already knew back then that there would be no new technical marvels waiting for him at the Valencia test on November 8 after the GP finale. Then he added with a discouraged air: “We are running out of time.

The other Honda riders couldn’t shake that feeling either. The quartet finished the Drivers’ Championship from 13th to 18th place and secured just two podium places in 20 races. Ducati collected 32 of them.

From 2013 to 2019 inclusive, Honda executives could count on Marc Márquez to fill the technical gaps in the bike with unbridled dedication, risk-taking and a moderate sense of self-preservation, even with the risk of falling 30 35 times a year. year.

But at the Jerez GP in July 2020, it was the last straw.

Honda: Kokubu as the new strongman?

At the end of 2016, the HRC was led by Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto and Team Principal Livio Suppo. They never bothered to scout new talent as happened with Suzuki, Ducati and KTM because of Marc Marquez’s winning streak.

Marc Márquez has won one victory and one world title after another. He won the World Cup six times in seven years from 2013 to 2019.

For the 2017 season, HRC installed a quartet of managers. The new strongman was Takeo Yokoyama, who served as technical director and was assisted by Tetsuhiro Kuwata (general manager), Shinichi Kokubu (HRC director) and Shigehisa Fujita (administrative division general manager).

At the 2022 Silverstone GP it became clear that Yokoyama had to leave, although the HRC strenuously denied this measure even at the Misano GP.

There was the next declaration of bankruptcy when Honda suddenly tested an aluminum swingarm from Kalex at Misano in September, as the competition raced from victory to victory with carbon swingarms. But after all, the Kalex product turned out to be superior to the Japanese.

Apparently, HRC officials sometimes just wanted the indignant Marc Márquez to believe that things are now happening. Some looked like eye drops.

Like the Sepang story, when Marc Márquez happily pointed out a “new chassis”, leading him to believe that Honda was developing tirelessly.

But the LCR team in Malaysia said Nakagami tried this chassis a long time ago and got rid of it because it was unusable.

At some point, the Japanese realised, as did Pol Espargaró and Alex Márquez: “We haven’t received anything new since the season opener in Doha that would have helped us in any way. “

The 2022 Honda’s outdated aerodynamics turned out to be the biggest problem, and the aero updates turned out to be failures.

In the end, the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer had no choice but to simply copy Ducati’s dinosaur rear fenders a few weeks later.

Alex Márquez is not the only one who has long been convinced that Honda has now exceeded his brother’s patience.

Alex says as soon as he beats his smaller but older sibling in 2023 with the Gresini Ducati GP22, the six-time MotoGP World Champion will consider a rebrand.

Newcomers Joan Mir (Repsol) and Alex Rins (LCR) are also keen to see progress at Honda. At Suzuki, they became world champions and third in the 2020 championship. Rins has won two of the last three races in 2022.

This year’s Suzuki team boss Livio Suppo, who was sacked from HRC after 2016, happily says Marc Márquez will lose his motivation at HRC if he can no longer challenge for the world championship in 2023 .

Marc turns 30 in February and his contract with HRC expires at the end of 2024.

He does not have an eternity if he wants to become world champion again.

And Zarco, Lorenzo, Viñales and Dovizioso also terminated their factory contracts at the start of recent years.

After the Valencia test on November 8, Marc Márquez (he did not go beyond 13th place) clarified to his employer Honda: “We will not fight for the world championship in 2023 with the bike we received here.”

The 59-time MotoGP winner expects much more innovation and updates from HRC for the Sepang test (February 10-12, 2023), he said.

Since the Misano GP there have been indications that the HRC will now be mainly in charge of Shinichi Kokubu.
It remains to be seen whether he is able to bring a breath of fresh air.

A dynamic new start, like the one Yamaha made after 2018, feels different.

Because Kokubu has been at the forefront of GPSport for over ten years, and he was previously involved in the development of the NSF 250RW for the Moto3 World Championship.

As the saying goes, a new broom cleans well.

But for now, HRC looks set to keep the momentum going.

The recent Crew Chief Rochade with Giacomo Guidotti (from LCR to Repsol), Klaus Nöhles (from test team to LCR and Nakagami) Ramon Aurín (from Repsol to test team) cannot hide it.

Valencia test, MotoGP (November 8):

1. Marini, Ducati, 1:30.032s
2. Vinales, Aprilia, +0.225s
3. Bezzecchi, Ducati, +0.230
4. Oliveira, Aprilia, +0.335
5. Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, +0.366
6. Di Giannantonio, Ducati, +0.451
7. Brad Binder, KTM, +0.464
8. Martin, Ducati, +0.544
9. Quartararo, Yamaha, +0.546
10.Bastianini, Ducati, +0.560
11. Zarco, Ducati, +0.594
12. Bagnaia, Ducati, +0.623
13. Marc Marquez, Honda, +0.644
14. Morbidelli, Yamaha, +0.659
15. Alex Marquez, Ducati, +0.680
16. Pol Espargaro, GASGAS, +0.725
17. Miller, KTM, +0.755
18. Mir, Honda, +0.882
19. Nakagami, Honda, +1049
20. Rins, Honda, +1.196
21. Raúl Fernandez, Aprilia, +1.308
22. Augusto Fernandez, GASGAS, +1698
23. Pirro, Ducati, +2773

#long #Marc #Márquez #Honda #Theater

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