“Honda is the worst bike on MotoGP grid… I’d rather ride Aprilia” - Neil Hodgson

Honda's current MotoGP troubles has been years in the making but have now only been exposed because it can't rely on Marc Marquez's magic, according to Neil Hodgson

Marc Marquez, Honda MotoGP 2021.jpg

WorldSBK Champion and BT Sport MotoGP Commentator Neil Hodgson says Honda’s current struggles in MotoGP cannot be attributed solely to Marc Marquez’s injury, suggesting this is the culmination of a slide down the order that has been years in the making to leave it with the ‘worst bike on the grid’.

Honda endured its worst-ever season in the premier class of motorcycle racing in 2020, marking an abrupt end to a run of form that had seen it take six MotoGP titles over the previous seven seasons.

Each of those titles were attributed to Marc Marquez, but after his season was scuppered by an injury at the very first round, Honda found itself with a riding quartet of Alex Marquez, Stefan Bradl, Takaaki Nakagami and Cal Crutchlow unable to carry the mantle on a temperamental RC213V designed to meet Marquez’s unique demands.

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Marquez has since returned for the 2021 MotoGP campaign but neither he nor new team-mate Pol Espargaro have shown eye-catching form, seemingly exposing Honda’s problems run much deeper than previously feared. 

For Hodgson, he believes the innate talent of Marquez made a huge difference to Honda’s competitiveness and disguised its compromises as a result, a sign of which can be attributed to Jorge Lorenzo’s troubled year on the sister bike in 2019 when he replaced Dani Pedrosa.

However, with Marquez lacking in some strength and mobility on the bike, he is now discovering how difficult the RC213V is for others to ride and why Hodgson believes Honda - without Marquez making the difference - has ended up with the worst bike on the grid.

“The problem is, when you’re so far off… the bike is the worst bike on the grid,” he told Visordown in an exclusive interview. “It’s bizarre, when you think out of the six manufacturers, the Honda is the bike you wouldn’t want to ride. I’d rather jump on the Aprilia first! 

“Because the gap is so big, they’ll need to find something quite major, and in one test… it can help to get a direction, but it’s usually not fixed like that. They’ve got a long slog ahead of them. 

“The problem is, because Marquez has been so good in the past, the Honda’s been below the Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki for quite a few years in my opinion, but Marquez has made that difference because of his ability. 

“Now with his injury… I think the Honda is worse, and obviously Marc is not the same Marc due to his injury. So he’s trying to bridge that gap again, and all of a sudden they can’t even get level with them, let alone ahead of them. I think that’s been the major issue.”

'I’ve got a horrible feeling he’s gonna crash this weekend'

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s German MotoGP at the Sachsenring, where Marquez has achieved a spectacular ten victories during his GP career, Hodgson believes this even will be pivotal to see where both Honda and Marquez are in terms of performance and fitness.

“Marc’s brain is still saying all the right things, his want, his desire, his talent he hasn’t lost, but his body can’t quite do it. If you’re just a fraction off with your body position or your reaction, you are down. 

“These boys are obviously on the limit, and Marquez has lived on the limit, that’s why he crashed so much. He only has to be 1% off, but that’s a crash, and that’s what we’re seeing - and I’ve got a horrible feeling he’s gonna crash this weekend. 

“He’s so good around the Sachsenring, it’s a big round for Honda, for him, can he win at a track that he’s not been beaten on for the last 10 years? What’s he gonna do, try harder? If he tries harder he’s gonna go down…

“I hope I’m wrong, by the way! I’d like to see him & Honda get a result, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”

BT Sport is the home of MotoGP in the UK. Catch all the action from the German GP exclusively live on BT Sport including practice, qualifying and the race. The weekend’s action starts from 8am on Friday 18th June on BT Sport 2