A powerful campaign to put pressure on Repsol Honda has unfolded in the Spanish media: journalists present the rotation of personnel in MotoGP teams as a “sweep” and rejection of pilots who are “in fact open to cooperation with all their hearts.” Alex Marquez and Pol Espargaro found many supporters in sports publications. Is this the case, or is this another throw-in?
Spanish Motorsport claims that Honda “ruthlessly treats” its most loyal drivers, and does not respect their feelings and aspirations, changing them at the first opportunity. But in the end, it loses the most promising alternative leaders. At one time, in the same way, they tried to put pressure on HRC for concentrating efforts on Marc Marquez alone.
What was “right” and what was “wrong” in the aggressive raids of Spanish journalists on the Honda factory project in MotoGP?
What is “so”: the fact that in the absence of Marc Marquez in the championship due to injury, the performance of the Honda teams rushed to zero. This argument has always been the main one when discussing the initial “wrong course” of the company in MotoGP.
What’s “wrong”: at the same time, after the release of the Brand in 2020, two Honda racers at once – Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami demonstrated rapid performance growth. They fought for pole positions, starting from the 1st line and placing on the podium. To consolidate the result in 2020, they did not have enough experience. No one said that the RC213V is an “unaffordable motorcycle”! They said: “a difficult motorcycle.” And the fact that he was “unaffordable” began to be talked about later, when the riders began to grow annoyed because of their failures.
Marquez Sr., even with his physical disability, fought for the podium in 2021 and won the Grand Prix. Paul Espargaro started the 2022 season with a fight for the Qatar Grand Prix but then deflated. Taka Nakagami regularly finds himself in the TOP 5-6 according to the results of free practices, but he made too many mistakes in the races, which crossed out all his achievements. Alex was a strange Honda bet from the first day, and his direct family ties with Mark, as a result, ruined the pilot’s ego – he feels like only a “shadow of his brother”.
Is it true that Marc Marquez is the only pilot capable of driving an RC213V? Not either. He just allows himself what none of his colleagues allows. This is a key point that Paul Espargaro had to agree to at the end of 2020 when he signed a 2-year contract with Repsol.
Should I remind you what Paul said in his first official interview as an HRC pilot? Here are some quotes from it:
This is the greatest challenge for me … I was hired so I could beat Mark.” “At the moment, Mark is an unsurpassed champion, but the team needs a pilot who can challenge him. This is a challenge for me, and I accepted it.” “It’s all-in: I’m either going to skyrocket, or my career is over.” And again: “I accepted this offer because working in a team of such a level as Repsol Honda is the dream of any motorcycle racer in the world. And when my career is over, I don’t want to regret that I didn’t try all the possibilities.”
According to the results of 11 races in 2022, taking into account that Marc Marquez missed the Indonesian Grand Prix and could not fly to Argentina, and then dropped out due to the need for the 4th operation after Mugello, he still occupies a significantly higher position in the general classification than Pol Espargaro, Taka Nakagami, and Alex Marquez.
Mark is on the 13th line with 60 points, while the other three scored a total of 109 points and occupy positions from 16th to 18th.
But in the Yamaha camp, the situation is exactly the same, isn’t it? But no one accuses Iwata of being “cruel” to his pilots! On the contrary, YFR demonstrates excessive loyalty to Morbidelli and Dovizioso – a contract is a contract…
All this is very reminiscent of the story of Jorge Lorenzo
Every racer wants a perfect motorcycle, with which it would be easy for him to win races. Working on improving the motorcycle, unfortunately, is a rough job that no one wants to do. Marc Marquez, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, and Andrea Dovizioso – all allowed themselves to spend personal time on development. It took Dovizioso 5 years of his career out of 8 years of cooperation with Ducati but led the Italian to 2nd place in the championship with good chances to compete for the title. What did Dovi get from Ducati in return? Dismissal. What cruelty!
Jorge Lorenzo, no matter how good a racer he was, could never bring the prototype development to the end: he received a ready-made Yamaha M1 from Rossi and “like Rossi” in 2009 to become champion in 2010; then it took him a year and a half to at least remake Ducati Desmosedici “for himself”, and he just “didn’t make friends” with the Honda RC213V from the very beginning. I will note that after Valentino left Yamaha Factory Racing and spent 2 years with Ducati, by and large, no one worked on improving the Yamaha YZR-M1 – the engineering staff of the plant just went with the flow. The consequences of this began to be felt in 2017, when other factories made a leap forward – Ducati, Honda, Suzuki…
The challenge that Paul Espargaro took on is the same kind as the challenge that Lorenzo took on in 2018 – all or nothing. In both cases, it turned out “nothing”. What to regret?..