Well Marc Marquez didn’t see this coming or did he? The Honda factory MotoGP team have had a season to forget so far, but will they have had chance to rectify it before we head to Catalunya, who knows.
The paddock is quietly saying Honda have gone backwards, but have the competitors just caught up? As Marquez taken his foot off the gas? So many questions and not so many answers unfortunately. What we do know is that Honda are struggling and Marquez as openly admitted the bike is too powerful, he just can’t do what he used to in previous seasons. We know he’s always looked out of control, but this season he’s looked a little more out of control than normal.
We then lost Dani Pedrosa early the season due to an ongoing issue with arm pump, which started rumours in the paddock he wouldn’t return, fortunately for fans he has, and suddenly Honda look in disarray.
When HRC vice President Nakamoto is coming out stating “We need to work on the electronics and chassis” you know things aren’t going their way at the moment. Even veteran rider Valentino Rossi is surprised at Honda’s problems adding that “The real surprise is not the competitiveness of Ducati, but to see Marc 5th in the championship.”
Honda say they are going to look at the machine setup and are confident that recent results are down to coincidences such as poor luck with Nakamoto adding “In terms of results, they are not as good as I expected. This year, we have had some unlucky things due to the weather, the timing, etc. Le Mans race weekend is a good example. Marc was so strong in the warmup, but in the afternoon the temperature was completely different. Marc usually prefers the harder front tire, but we couldn’t test it due to the weather conditions.”
The worrying thing for MotoGP teams is that apparently Marquez’s braking is even stronger this year according to Nakamoto “Last year, Marc’s braking was very, very strong. This year, it’s even stronger, so we don’t need to concentrate on this aspect.”
At the winter tests a number of chassis’s were tested and the majority of the paddock now think this was because Honda were struggling to find the perfect fit for their RCV machine rather than a statement of intent. A new swingarm was tested at Mugello by Honda and another chassis tested by Marquez in the winter tests and rejected also came along. HRC are working flat on the electronics to help tame the torque and aggressiveness of the bike.
Jorge Lorenzo’s team manager Wilco Zeelenberg commented on Honda’s problems this week saying “It’s very dangerous to fix problems for other races, you need to fix at that race weekend. If you cannot and you start to change things for the next weekend then maybe you go in the wrong direction.” Zeelenberg added “With the fresh tyre they [Marc and Iannone] had the pace, but when the freshness of the first few laps is gone, the rhythm starts and they dropped too much.”
The interesting thing is Honda have only recorded one victory compared to Yamaha’s five, at this stage last year they had won the opening six races and this as certainly been noted by Marquez stating “Looking at the championship, leaving Mugello with zero points makes things more complicated, especially looking at how strong the Yamahas are.”
When pressed further the double world champion added “It’s clear that we are suffering and we are struggling more than last year”, before going on the say “But in the end, we have the speed. We know that we have a problem when the tires drop as I don’t have the support from the rear tire and we are working on it with the same determination. It’s the priority.”
Whatever the issues are Honda by all accountants are working flat out, but at this moment in time there are more questions than answers. The problem they have ahead is that Yamaha and Ducati are getting stronger and stronger, are we seeing a shift in power in the MotoGP paddock? We are heading to Catalunya where Rossi is leading the championship, Lorenzo is at the top of his game and the Ducati riders will pretty much go fast anywhere. A tough season is going to get a little tougher for Honda unless they solve the issues they are having soon.