Honda, Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso and a rule-changing Plan B

With uncertainty over the fitness of Marc Marquez, could Honda initiate a 'Plan B' approach of running three bikes, including one for Andrea Dovizioso

Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez

A third operation for Marc Marquez five months after the accident that ruled him out of the entire 2020 MotoGP season - but only three before the next - doesn’t spell good news for the six-time MotoGP World Champion.

From attempting to ride three days after his first operation to where he is now, Marquez has not thrown a leg over a bike since July and while the persistent social media posts suggests training is continuing, a 10 day stay in hospital after going under the knife to treat an infection that has been stuttering what is a very slow recovery process is serious.

Of course, there is certainly no medical degree here and based on the official Honda line things should be ship shape for the start of the 2021 MotoGP season, but the rumour mill has been cranking for a few weeks now with little to suggest things are indeed OK.

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It’s a headache Honda is hardly going to be relishing having had to grin through gritted teeth in 2020 as its prize asset’s absence exposed the lack of a back up plan with Cal Crutchlow, Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez unable to take up the initiative for one reason or another.

Ironically, Honda had foreseen this by signing Pol Espargaro from 2021 to act as a worthy back up in the worst case scenario, only for those fears to be justified a year too early. Having clinched the triple crown in 2019 on the strength of Marquez alone considering Jorge Lorenzo’s flop on the other bike, in 2020 Honda found itself fifth from six in the manufacturers’ standings, while only Aprilia and Avintia Racing scored fewer points than the factory Repsol team..

It’s why Honda might be getting itchy feet at the prospect of another (Marc) Marquez-less period, which gives rise to a Plan B that, by all accounts, doesn’t exactly sound like a bad one..

Where could Andrea Dovizioso fit into this?

Enter Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian is currently preparing for a year on the sidelines having severed ties with Ducati in a game of contractual call my bluff that went the distance. Having rebuffed the scant alternative options available to him (Aprilia), Dovizioso seems content with a year on the sofa… or is he?

Never exactly a man of many words, Dovizioso was saying nothing when asked about the prospect of a Honda move at the 2020 finale. However, it’s likely he will be watching the Marquez situation closely and it’s reasonable to suggest a Merry Xmas text of sorts has been sent between himself and Alberto Puig in recent weeks.

On paper it’s an ideal solution. Dovizioso is more than capable of taking on a leader status with a title-winning team, one he has previously competed with of course.

However, it could face a stumbling block in terms of the rules because Marquez will need seat time but won’t get it if Dovizioso is occupying it. Thus there is talk Honda could petition the FIM to revert Dovizioso or Marquez to a de facto wildcard status, ensuring three Repsol-branded RC213V bikes are on the grid.

It would require a tweak to the regulations - and rivals are unlikely to be impressed - but history shows the FIM isn’t adverse to policy changes where Senor Marquez and Honda are concerned… watch this space!