Why Espargaro faces Marquez with no fear at Honda
Pol Espargaro will face the toughest challenge of his racing career pairing up with six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez at Honda in 2021 - should Marquez be fit. But his toil during his four-year KTM stint has readied him for the fight
The 2021 rider market was always poised to be one of the most unpredictable with most contracts up for grabs at the end of the 2020 campaign. But there were few who had money on Pol Espargaro departing KTM to join Honda alongside Marc Marquez, whom HRC renewed for an unprecedented four years early in 2020.
When the dust had settled after the news, first revealed by Autosport, had broken, it didn't take long for reason and logic to take hold. The Honda is a difficult bike, requiring an aggressive riding style to extract the best from. In that respect, it wasn't that far removed from the KTM - though of course, when racing finally got underway the RC16 emerged as a much friendlier bike from previous years.
Prior to the summer break, the 2022 MotoGP title looked like it was Fabio Quartararo’s to lose. But a crash at Assen and the consequential penalty he had to serve last weekend at Silverstone stopped him from capitalising on a main rival’s injury woes, while a resurgence from another, plus the rise of a former team-mate, look set to conspire against the Yamaha rider
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Coinciding with the arrival of Massimo Rivola as head of its MotoGP division, Aprilia has undergone an internal revolution that has spurred it from occupying last place in the team standings to leading the table in the space of just two years. Those entrenched in the project reveal how the ex-Ferrari F1 chief has achieved the dramatic turnaround
Franco Morbidelli was long overdue a promotion to factory machinery when it finally came late last year, having finished runner-up in the 2020 standings on an old Yamaha package. But since then the Italian has been a shadow of his former self as he toils to adapt to the 2022 M1, and recognises that he needs to change his style to be quick on it
The once all-conquering Japanese manufacturers are going through a difficult period in MotoGP this season. With Suzuki quitting, Honda struggling to get near the podium and Yamaha only enjoying success courtesy of Fabio Quartararo, Japanese manufacturers have been left in the dust by their European counterparts. Key paddock figures explain why.
Valentino Rossi’s protégés stole the show at Assen as Francesco Bagnaia stormed to victory to arrest a recent barren run. But it was the rider in second, on Bagnaia’s old bike, who had all eyes on him. Securing his and the VR46 team’s first MotoGP podium, Marco Bezzecchi has all the characteristics that made his mentor special
Rossi would have stopped racing without Yamaha MotoGP return
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