It is one of the most powerful factories in the World Cup and was the favorite to win the championship, but the potential of Hondawhose first pilot is Marc Márquez, has been diluted due to the difficulty of handling the RC213V, an indomitable motorcycle which has generated numerous falls, unlikely injuries, unusual burns and complaints from its pilots.
The Japanese brand bottomed out at the Sachsenring, on June 19, a circuit in which Márquez always won (the man from Lleida could not race as he was recovering from his fourth operation on the humerus of his right arm). After linking wins in Germany since 2010, Honda was unable to score a single point. Takaaki Nakagami, Pol Espargaró and Álex Márquez did not finish the race and Stefan Bradl, tester and substitute for Marc, was the last of the 16 riders who finished the race, 22 seconds behind Remy Gardner, penultimate.
Sachsenring ended 633 consecutive races (since 1982) by scoring points in the premier class. A situation that could be repeated this past weekend in Assen. Nakagami (12th) and Álex Márquez (15th) narrowly entered the points. Bradl (18th) was left out and Pol Espargaró did not even participate.
The discomfort in Honda is evident and the concern is palpable. In just eleven Grands Prix he has suffered 44 crashes (Álex Márquez, 12; Pol Espargaró, 10; Marc Márquez, 10; Nakagami, 6, and Bradl, 6), some of them so serious that they have forced the drivers to miss several races . This is the case of Marc Márquez, to whom a hard fall in Mandalika caused a new case of diplopia that prevented him from starting in Indonesia and also running in Argentina. Or Pol Espargaró, whose accident at the Sachsenring also did not allow him to compete in Germany or Assen, as he could not bear the severe pain in his ribs after the impact (this weekend he saw in free practice that he was not in a position to participate).
Beyond the ungovernability of the Honda, the riders suffer real torture every time they get on a gold wing bike. The shape of the fairing prevents the release of heat generated by the engine and literally burns its occupants. Nakagami ended up with a burned foot in Malaysia (he had to be helped out of his boot), as did Bradl and Pol Espargaró at the Sachsenring. The images of Bradl’s right foot with burns on the sole and instep, or those of Pol Espargaró with his foot stuck in a basin with water and ice, caused an impact.
The bike generates a heat that reaches 100 degrees and causes about 50 degrees inside the boots. “It’s unacceptable,” criticized Bradl as he wore a bandage and walked around in flip-flops. “Honda hasn’t been able to develop a fairing that allows riders to survive in this heat. This message has to reach them, it is not acceptable, it cannot be like that. I’ve been through other difficult and hot races, but I don’t really know how I was able to finish this one,” added the German.
And he gave more details: «After following the group in the first corners, I couldn’t brake because the lever in my right hand got very hot and I couldn’t control the bike, it burned my fingers. With so many curves to the left, the right hand gets almost no air, and that makes things even more complicated. After ten laps, his right foot was burned. The Honda is undrivable at these temperatures, a solution must be found,” warned the former Moto2 champion in 2011. Bradl’s speech is shared by Pol Espargaró, who claimed to feel “ashamed” when he was last in Montmeló three weeks ago.
Honda makes no excuses
From Honda they do not make excuses and recognize the problems of a motorcycle that has not lived up to or has not met expectations. Alberto Puig, Repsol Honda team manager, is critical: «The balance of this first half of the season is clear, it is not a good season for us and there is nothing to delve into the situation. It is clear that we are not competitive and we have to improve, and that is what we are trying to do. Many explanations can be given, but the truth is that we must improve and we must change our procedures, and this is what we are trying to do. In the history of Honda, we have had more good moments than bad, in terms of results, but now we are in a bad one. So we have to fix it.”
The weariness in the Honda box is evident and the discontent of the pilots, notable. The Japanese factory no longer seduces as before and its own pilots are looking for a change of scenery. Pol Espargaró is getting closer to returning to KTM’s Tech 3 and Álex Márquez has already announced that next season he will defend the colors of Gresini Racing, Ducati’s satellite team. Marc’s little brother doesn’t want to continue in the LCR, tired of the high technical difficulties that have hampered his projection during the last two and a half seasons. His results on the track prove it: only two podiums in 2020, one at Le Mans, under water, and another in Aragón. “I am very happy to be able to announce that I am joining the Gresini MotoGP team. I am also very excited to start this new adventure: it was crucial for me to change to recover the same type of motivation that I had when I moved up to this category », explained the Catalan in a statement, making clear the need for him to leave Honda.
With Marc Márquez as the cornerstone of the new project, Honda will be completely remodeled next season and is looking forward to the return of the eighth champion before the end of the year in order to develop a new bike that does not burn out and puts them back on the winning path. Joan Mir is emerging as his teammate after Suzuki’s announcement of leaving the World Championship. Rins and Ogura, second in Moto2 and who wants to be promoted from Japan, would form the satellite team. Nakagami would stay on as tester.