Feature Article MotoGP: Could Dovizioso be in line to replace Marquez?
Marc Marquez has undergone a third surgery to his arm, putting his 2021 season in doubt, who could be his replacement?
Marc Marquez has been forced to have a third surgery on his right humerus after it was found to not be healing properly with the bone not fusing together, the operation which was performed was a bone transplant, taking bone and red blood cells from his pelvis and adding this to the bone in his right humerus. This type of surgery has a recovery time of 6 months meaning Marquez will look to have recovered by June 2021.
Marquez has also added to this saying he will not return until he is 100% fit and can race at the same level as before. This means that Honda need to replace Marquez and they need to replace him ASAP. He was replaced by Stefan Bradl for the 2020 season, but with Bradl also completing his testing duties behind closed doors, he could not focus 100% on racing meaning Honda may be looking elsewhere to replace Marquez for the first 7/8 rounds of the 2021 season.
Bradl did a great job on the Honda with some fantastic performances, but he is no Marc Marquez and for the first time since 1981, Honda did not win a premier class race all season long after putting all their eggs into one basket without a thought of what could happen if Marquez was to be injured.
Andrea Dovizioso, Donington Park 2009, race winner
This is where Andrea Dovizioso steps in, the Italian rider has finished as runner up to Marc Marquez in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons on the Ducati before enduring a tough 2020 campaign which saw him finish in fourth overall in the standings. Dovizoso announced at the Austrian round that he would terminate his 8 year relationship with the Italian brand with no Plan B, leaving due to the toxic environment in the Ducati garage and because they were not offering him the money he expected from being a 3 x runner up.
It was confirmed that Dovizioso spoke to various manufacturers about full-time rides and even testing roles before opting to take a sabbatical for the 2021 season and return in 2022 when there were more offers and open spaces, this move has been played to perfection, with Marquez out and Dovizioso sat on the sidelines ready, a 15 x MotoGP class race winner, including 1 win for Repsol Honda. Honda would surely be picking up the phone to him instantly and asking the question of if he would want to race for them.
However, there is one little issue, Dovizioso and Honda have some bad blood, way back in 2010, Honda signed Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa for the 2011 season, thinking they could terminate Dovizioso’s contract and have a 2 rider team, this didn’t work out so well, Dovizioso had a 2011 contract for the team and was going to do all he could to race for Honda this season, eventually winning his case in court, forcing Honda to run three bikes in 2011 with Dovizioso a clear #3, receiving very little upgrades and support. Ironically finishing in third in the MotoGP standings ahead of Dani Pedrosa. He left Honda for Tech3 at the end of the 2011 season.
Repsol Honda trio of Stoner, Dovizioso and Pedrosa, 2011
Dovizioso did confirm that he spoke to Honda about being their 2021 test rider meaning there is still some interest from both parties; if Dovizioso is offered a return on the bike which has beaten him to three titles, it is more than likely he will accept the offer. Honda are regarded as some as being the best bike and many as being the absolute worst bike, therefore it will be interesting to see what a rider of Dovizioso’s talent can do on a bike which ended the career of Jorge Lorenzo.
Honda have another potential issue, what if Dovizioso goes and does a 2014 Marquez and wins the first 7 races he races in the 2021 season? Do Honda swap Dovizioso for Marquez upon his return or do they run a third bike? Potentially another problem further up the road we feel, but, for now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Featured images – www.motogp.com