MotoGP: What Marc Marquez’s win means for Honda and Marc
Marc Marquez took a sensational win at Sachsenring to make it 11 in a row.
Marc Marquez stunned many taking a shock victory in Sachsenring, a track he has historically always performed very well at. The track boasts just three 3 handed corners and 10 left corners, Marc Marquez is well known to be one of the best flat track riders in the world even pushing Brad Baker to his absolute limits at the Superprestigio where MotoGP and various other tarmac racers would try their hand at flat track racing against some of the worlds most elite flat trackers including Baker.
Flat track is raced on an oval-styled dirt track and you only go left, similar to NASCAR. Marquez grew up learning to ride through flat track with the ability to turn left quickly running through his veins, therefore when we come to a left heavy track there is no doubt he will dominate.
This year he arrived at the track with a very different situation, Marquez had completed just 5 races since Valencia 2019, crashing out of 3 of 5. He held a 10 consecutive victory record at the track and many believed he would lose this with even Marquez wondering if it would be possible for him to take victory.
Now as we all know, Marc Marquez launched his way off the line on P5 and was incredibly strong in the opening laps to take the lead with Aleix Espargaro trying his hand at a battle for a race lead, unfortunately for the Aprilia man his race fell apart as soon as the rain started to appear being demoted down to P7 after battling for podium positions.
There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’, Repsol and LCR boys all cheering for Marc.
Marquez was then able to take control of the race and raced as you’d expect him to given that he excels in tricky conditions with a mix of rain and a dry track, he controlled his own race pace saving his tyres and pushing when he needed to and chilling out when he had chance to breathe. The biggest example of this was when Miguel Oliveira put on a charge in second place trying to take his second victory of the season, Oliveira hugely upped the pace but Marquez was able to match this clocking in a 0.200 advantage through sector one and two with Oliveira matching and sometimes beating this by a mere 0.050-0.100 seconds over sectors three and four to close down the gap from two seconds down to one over 17 laps.
Marquez pushed on and added that extra 10% he needed leaving a little more in reserve in case he needed it and forced Oliveira to match and even beat this if he wanted to win, by the time we had 8 laps left Oliveira still needed to close down 1.100 seconds and was pushing his KTM RC16 to the absolute max, there was no way it would be mathematically possible for him to win at the pace he was running as he was only taking 0.100 off Marquez with 8 laps left.
Eventually, the Portuguese rider was stretched too thin and he couldn’t push anymore and with two laps to go he accepted second place letting Marquez’s lead open back up to two seconds and give the 8-time champion the victory with Oliveira knowing he’d rather take 20 points than zero.
This incredible win means many things for Honda who didn’t win a single race in 2020 and many things for Marc Marquez also. Firstly it means the impending threat of Honda being allowed concessions for 2022 if they didn’t score a podium all season long has gone. As much as these concessions would’ve aided them, it would’ve been horrific proof of a massive downturn for Honda who are the most successful manufacturer in the modern MotoGP era by a long mile. Gone are the days of all their riders being able to win on their bikes looking back to Dani Pedrosa, Marco Melandri, Andrea Dovizioso, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Toni Elias plus more over a decade ago, now only one rider can win and even then he struggles due to injury and because the bike is not up to scratch.
Once again it’s the familiar tale of Marquez coming in to rescue Honda and put a massive bandaid over their problems which are being ignored because the bike is still winning races. This win for Honda tells them that their bike is still quick enough to win races, this can go one of two ways for the Japanese factory, it can either motivate them to build a bike good enough to win races consistently, or the alternative fear of them reverting back to old habits and putting their eggs back into the Marc Marquez basket and relying on him to do all their dirty work winning them titles in a sole effort as he did in 2019.
Back on top.
Honda now need to take this win as an anomaly, they can celebrate it until the cows come home but they cannot take it as fact that their bike is ‘fixed’ because that is far from the case, with all four riders struggling on the bike they really do need to knuckle down and get to work fixing the bike. Pol Espargaro once again had a torrid time in the Sachsenring confirming he struggled a lot and was unable to overtake riders finishing in P10. Over in their LCR satellite team Alex Marquez once again crashed with Takaaki Nakagami taking a lonely P13 finish. Honda can only celebrate once all their riders are able to consistently fight at the front the same way Ducati are able to do barring their rookies on 2-year-old bikes.
One thing we must remember is that although Marc Marquez won a race in his fifth race back, he is still not at 100% fitness and is still struggling hugely. This win will have many people thinking that ‘Marquez is back’ which in a sense he is, he’s back to the top of the podium and back to winning, but he’s still a long way off being at 100% and racing at full fitness and ability. He still struggles with fatigue and lower energy levels and a top 8 finish at Assen is more than likely, anything more than that on the hugely physically demanding Dutch track would be impressive, to say the least.
Regarding Marquez actually being ‘back’ and fully fit it’s likely we will see a return to form after the summer break once he’s had a few weeks to relax, recuperate and build some more strength in the gym to come back more competitive and more importantly, come back as Marc Marquez, the man who destroys everyone in his path.
Featured images – HRC