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MotoGP Catalan GP

Bleakness of Honda MotoGP woes laid bare after Barcelona sprint

The 2023 MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix proved to be another difficult affair for Honda, with Marc Marquez its leading rider in 11th as none of its runners scored points.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

After the four Hondas occupied the final four spots on the timesheets at the end of Friday’s running in Barcelona, Marquez offered a moment of relief as he managed to get into Q2.

The eight-time world champion shadowed KTM’s Jack Miller as a reference to produce a time good enough for second, though he later admitted that after that “real lap” he didn’t want to compete in Q2 as he knew 12th was all he could manage.

That proved to be the case, as he went seven tenths slower in Q2 than he managed in the first segment of qualifying, going from 1m39.070s to a 1m39.7s.

And after a fighting early few laps in the sprint in which he was as high as seventh, he faded to 11th and 11.8s off winner Aleix Espargaro.

Marquez felt like it was a “good day” which was “strange to say” for him given the results, and noted that moments like Q1 and the early laps of the sprint are “important” for his confidence to “show I’m still there”.

“In the end, in the race I finished on my position,” Marquez began.

“But it’s true that the real performance of the bike alone [on track] was able to do 1m39.7s, 1m39.6s, 1m39.8s.

“Like I did in Q2. In Q2 I tried to follow Pecco [Bagnaia] but after three corners I was alone, he was gone, so I did the lap alone.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“In Q1 I was able to find the perfect lap with a bike that is not like the Ducati, it’s a little bit slower, different riding style.

“I was able to follow Miller and I did a real lap. When I stopped in the box I said I didn’t want to go out in Q2 because it was enough in 12th position.

“It’s not the best way, but it’s one of my abilities to follow others. But in the race, after a good start the pace of the first five, six laps was incredible.

“I was pushing extra, I was riding on the limit and it was possible to have a crash there because I was riding over my limits. But there when I saw I was able to follow them a bit, I started to have graining and I said ‘OK, now it’s time to come back [down] and finish the race’.

“For me it’s important, it’s some moments, single moments, but they are important for my confidence, for myself.

“More than for the result. To show that I’m still there, because in the end you start to have some doubts in yourself even if you are very far [from the front].”

His Honda team-mate Joan Mir finished the sprint 19.574s down in last at a circuit in 2020 which ultimately marked the beginning of his charge to the championship with Suzuki.

Mir says the lack of traction he had on his Honda, even to the rest of the RC213V runners, led to the “worst feeling of my life on a motorbike”, and called this “unacceptable”.

“Honestly, it’s hard for me to be in front of you and speak about the race because I had the worst feeling of my life on a motorbike,” Mir, who recently admitted he thought about retiring amid Honda’s current woes, said on Saturday.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“It is something unbelievable. I was losing on acceleration even with the other Hondas. I don’t really understand what happened.

“I know that our grip is not fantastic. There are a lot of corners here that expose our weak points and we are trying to survive with it. But honestly I was not able to control that spin.

“I was just opening the throttle and wasn’t moving. I was losing two or three tenths minimum in the last corner compared to the other Hondas.

“I need answers because everyone knows how to open the throttle. The other things is to brake, going into the corners, where I think we are strong. But what happened in the race was unacceptable.”

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