On the Tuesday morning after the climax of the 2022 MotoGP season in Valencia, Alex Marquez will trade in the Honda RC213V on which he has raced his entire premier class career to date and will instead jump on a Ducati Desmosedici GP22 for the first time, while he makes the switch from LCR to Gresini Racing.
But while that switch may take more than a week (and a full race weekend) to go, there’s an argument that the former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion is already halfway through Gresini, riding the way he’s been in recent weeks with a lot more on the future. then focused on the present.
That’s something he admitted on the brink after last Sunday’s race at Sepang, where he endured another tough weekend to come home to a distant 17th place, his sixth non-score from a tough season in which he also currently sits 17th. in the championship. , just three points ahead of teammate Taka Nakagami, despite the Japanese racer missing the last three laps due to injury.
The reasons 2022 has been so tough for the 26-year-old are no longer a surprise to anyone.
The current generation of Honda has somehow inexplicably turned into a machine that is even harder to ride than the one it was supposed to improve upon in what was a radical step in a different development path for this year.
Alex Marquez at Honda
Starts – 51Wins – 0Podiums – 2 Points per race – 3.8Average start position – 17.2Average position during races – 12.3Average finish – 11.4
Moving the entire balance of the bike to the rear in an effort to give riders more grip and traction at the expense of front-end feel meant the usual teething problems that come with a major revamp of a bike.
And the result was not only poor results for Marquez’s younger brother, but also an unenviable crash record that placed him third in the standings on 20 falls, behind only rookies Marco Bezzecchi (23) and Darryn Binder (21).
Those issues have been somewhat alleviated in recent weeks with new components designed to address the issues, including new frames first introduced during Misano testing and ridden by Nakagami and Marc Marquez since then, and an aluminum swingarm that was built by the German company Kalex as an alternative to the carbon fiber component that Honda has been developing in-house in recent years.
But with the younger Marquez and factory Repsol Honda rider Pol Espargaro both set to leave the team at the end of the current season, there is a noticeable lack of new components coming their way, with an understandable focus on Honda’s retained riders who leave the Ducati. -bound Marquez struggles with what he already has.
“We had zero new parts,” he said after the two-day test in Misano for the flying-race block. “We just tried more clear set up options and tried to get everything out of the boxes so that there is less weight for the team [to take overseas].”
He also admitted he was frustrated with the situation when he addressed the Spanish media, calling out Honda for a lack of support, while acknowledging its logic.
And now that the end of the line is in sight, it’s perhaps understandable that he resorted to simply checking the boxes and finishing the year unscathed so that he’s ready to hop on his new Ducati in a few days – what he will do for a team finished second last Sunday with Enea Bastianini.
“It’s sad, but it’s something we expected before the race,” he admitted, “to have this result. It’s a weekend to forget and I’ve told the team before not to go crazy: this is the reality this is what we have you have to wait for Honda to give you a better bike or something.
“It’s a bit like having a strange feeling in the stomach because we work really hard in the box, we always give our 100%, and I’m fast in the wet or in mixed conditions where the bike isn’t important. But then in the dry I am like a passenger; I can not do anything.
“It’s a very strange feeling and we will try to finish in Valencia.
“If I’m having a bad day, I get in the box and see where the Ducatis are. It’s the only thing that makes me positive and motivates me. When I see all the Ducati in front of me, I’m happy. I don’t want to be really optimistic but the engine is there.”