Why MotoGP's returning king can make or break Mir's 2020 legacy
The absence of Marc Marquez from the most open season in MotoGP history cast a looming shadow over reigning champion Joan Mir. The six-time world champion will miss the first two grands prix of 2021 as he continues to recover from injury, but remains the essential benchmark that nobody can rule out
Such is the otherworldly aura that radiates from Marc Marquez that, even after he sat out almost an entire season, and will miss the first two races this year, we start a new MotoGP campaign seriously considering his title prospects.
The last time we saw the six-time world champion on his factory Honda, he was pulling out of the Andalusian Grand Prix last July as he conceded defeat to his recently broken right arm. Three operations later, Marquez’s arm has healed to a point where he can ride again, but on Monday he confirmed that the opening double-header at Losail, comprising this weekend’s Qatar GP and next week’s Doha GP, will take place without him as Stefan Bradl once again stands in.
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
On the eve of the British Grand Prix, Andrea Dovizioso announced that he will be retiring from MotoGP after September’s San Marino GP. The timing of his departure raised eyebrows, but his reasoning remains sensible and what has happened this year should not diminish a hard-built legacy
Alex Rins’ MotoGP future was plunged into sudden doubt when Suzuki elected to quit the series at the end of 2022. Securing a deal with Honda to join LCR, he will now tread a path that many have fallen off from. But it was a move he felt his status deserved, and it’s a challenge – he tells Autosport - he faces with his eyes wide open…
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
Podcast: Why Marquez’s Qatar MotoGP absence hints at a stronger rider
How Marquez's absence changes the Qatar MotoGP dynamic