Ducati expects Marquez, Honda to use MotoGP pause to its benefit

Marc Marquez and Honda will come back stronger when MotoGP action eventually gets underway in 2020, according to Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna

Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda

Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna says the enforced hiatus of all MotoGP action will play into the hands of Honda and Marc Marquez after their underwhelming showing in pre-season testing.

With Marquez already enduring a lengthy recovery from shoulder surgery that threatened to hamper him in the early rounds, his fortunes weren’t helped by what appeared to be difficulty to get the latest generation Honda RC213V to be competitive.

Indeed, compared with Yamaha and Suzuki especially, Honda looked all at sea during pre-season testing with Marquez complaining the 2020 model was pushing into corners, while it lacked the straight-line speed advantage it commanded over the majority of the opposition last year.

The struggles were such that on the sixth and final day of testing, Marquez rode a hybrid model combining the aero of the 2019 bike with the 2020 chassis, though he claimed was a step in the right direction.

Regardless, rivals felt they went into the season opener with the upper hand until the Qatar curtain raiser was cancelled due to the coronavirus. With the following three events postponed and more expected to follow as nations tighten their borders and restrict movement, Dall’Igna says the pause has played right into Honda’s hands.

“I believe that Marc Marquez will benefit from it, because he was the one who physically had to recover the most," he told SkySport.it.

"The stop also gives some manufacturers that had problems in terms of performance and reliability time to intervene. I am referring to Honda for sure, but also to Aprilia, which had improved the bike but had some reliability problems."

How will MotoGP break help Marquez, Honda?

First things first, no-one – not even Honda – will ultimately want to be sat on the sidelines at this time and even if the team was struggling, there is no substitute for proper track time with its riders.

However, if every team is going to be on hiatus, then Honda certainly has the most to gain from taking a step back and rethinking its concept.

Testing wasn’t a disaster for Honda by any stretch and Marquez’s talents mean he can probably ride around any deficiencies, especially in race trim where he is generally quickest.

However, while claims of ‘pushing into corners’ certainly isn’t an unusual criticism levelled at the RC213V if they were listening to Cal Crutchlow or Jorge Lorenzo last year, having Marquez echo those sentiments certainly made Honda sit up and take notice.

As such, Honda has had time to go back to the drawing board and really pore over its data to ensure that when MotoGP does hit the track again, it will do so with a quicker package.

On the flip side, there is only so much Honda can achieve without hitting the track though and even if it could, it can only use test riders, none of which exhibit the same riding style of its champion.

However, while Yamaha and Suzuki might be more hesitant to tamper with a package that was clearly working well during pre-season testing, Honda has a lot of time now to find a solution even before you consider Marquez’s shoulder should be fully healed by then too.