‘Lost’ Marc Marquez finds breakthrough with 2020/19 hybrid Honda

Marc Marquez says he is feeling far more confident heading into the opening round of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship after Honda breakthrough

Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda

Marc Marquez has expressed his relief at what he believes is a breakthrough with the Honda RC213V after testing both the 2020 machine and Takaaki Nakagami’s 2019-spec model on the last day of testing in Qatar.

The Spaniard took the drastic decision to revert to last year’s model on the very final day of pre-season testing in an effort to find a solution to ongoing handling issues that he, his team-mate Alex Marquez and Cal Crutchlow have been complaining about.

At the heart of the problems is the 2020 Honda RC213V’s instability coming into the corners, specifically a trait that sees it pushing through the bends to unsettle the rider. It’s a problem Crutchlow repeatedly complained about in 2019 but seemed manageable in Marquez’s hands as he romped to his sixth world title.

However, with Marquez still recovering from his shoulder surgery – forcing him to adjust his riding style accordingly – the updates to the 2020 RC213V have highlighted how difficult the bike is to handle, prompting even him to criticise the direction of development.

As such, Marquez took to Nakagami’s satellite Honda on Monday to help identify the issues with the 2020 model, leading to a hybrid version of the two – reportedly swapping the new wings for the old ones – in an effort to find a compromise. In Marquez’s eyes, the process appears to have worked.

“I'm very happy. Honestly yesterday [Sunday] and the first day I was quite worried, but we did a great step," Marquez said. "We understood many things and we saw on the rhythm, the race pace, the lap time - everything was easier and less physically demanding.

"We worked a lot on my side of the box then Cal started to try some things we found and it looks like it was better also for him. I think we found a direction, so this is the most important thing because we were completely lost yesterday."

How Marc Marquez sparked crisis at Honda

Anyone following MotoGP will recognise Marc Marquez’s comments about the Honda RC213V this week as being familiar to those of Cal Crutchlow throughout the 2019 season.

However, Marquez’s dominance on the 2019 RC213V gave Honda little justification to adhere to making it more compliant to ride so long as one of its riders was winning.

As such, Honda was forced to sit up and take notice when even the mighty Marquez couldn’t make the 2020 RC213V quick and consistent, pointing out that the crashes he suffered in Sepang and Qatar were ‘strange’.

Indeed, while Marquez’s talents at making an edgy Honda quick were in evidence in 2019, he says he can’t work his magic because he has a lack of feeling.

"I was worried for two reasons, first of all because we were not fast enough and secondly because I was missing all the feeling with the bike and I didn't understand why.

"I had a strange crash in Malaysia, a strange crash here and I didn't understand anything. But today we understand everything.

"Once more it's the last day in Qatar that we find the way! So, a small smile. There's still a lot of work to do because the others have a good pace, but the last hour was really good."

While Honda is likely to dial the RC213V back to something more resembling the 2019 concept to appease Marquez, it remains to be seen whether those will be beneficial to the rest of the Honda camp with Crutchlow and Alex Marquez also suffering but ultimately not the priority.