'Marc knows no-one else can ride the Honda'

'Marc knows no one else can ride the Honda… Of course, he always wants to improve the bike, but he's happy with what he's got, because he's the fastest and most competitive with it'
'Marc knows no-one else can ride the Honda'

The 2019 Honda RCV may not be perfect but, combined with the unique talents of Marc Marquez, it's on course to not only win this year's MotoGP championship but dominate it.

While a more powerful engine has helped Marquez win five races, finish runner-up three times and hold a 58-point title lead, the tougher-to-turn handling and vaguer front-end has left the other RCV riders with just two podiums between them (both by Cal Crutchlow).

That presents a dilemma not only for Honda, but perhaps also Marquez.

After all, why should Marquez spend time and energy trying to make the bike easier for others to ride when his job is to win the world championship for Honda - and the present bike is putting him on course to easily do that.

That's not to say Marquez is deliberately creating a one-rider machine. His back-to-back tests of the new chassis in Germany proved he also wants to alter the handling, while a record 66-degree lean angle underlined the efforts needed to make the bike corner.

But Crutchlow also feels the reigning five-time MotoGP champion is 'happy with what he's got' and fully aware 'no one else can ride the Honda'.

"Unfortunately, we need to lean this [2019] bike more to turn, but every time I lean the bike more, I slide off the bike, I crash. It's just not my riding style," Crutchlow said on Saturday at Sachsenring.

"And this is why Marc is using it to his advantage. In the end, he knows no one else can ride the Honda and he can. So he wants no competition and no threat from… Of course, he always wants to improve the bike, but he's happy with what he's got, because he's the fastest on it and he's the most competitive with it."

The Englishman admitted that Marquez simply doesn't need the kind of changes he and Jorge Lorenzo have been requesting from HRC.

"Marc's a special guy, a unique talent, and the best rider in the world. We all know that. And just because he can do it, doesn't mean everybody else can."

Marquez is currently the only Honda rider in the championship top eight and while the Spaniard could potentially carry HRC to the riders' and constructors' titles single-handedly, they are lagging 38 points from Ducati in the teams' standings.

And although Crutchlow (ninth in the championship) returned to the podium in Germany, he played down the chances of it being a 'turning' point in his season.

"We have to be really careful to say that… I’m not saying this podium was [just] because of the circuit. We’ve worked hard to make the bike feel better for me and turn better for me, but it’s not happening, honestly.

"I still don’t feel what I felt and what I want to feel.

"But it helps that we slide the bike a lot to turn here, where Yamaha doesn’t really slide and they were struggling to turn more than us in a way. They were turning better with the front. We were turning better with the rear. So it was equalling out in that sense."

Crutchlow's team-mate Takaaki Nakagami is twelfth in the world championship (on the 2018 bike) while Marquez's new team-mate Jorge Lorenzo has endured a nightmare, injury-interrupted start to his Repsol Honda career and is only 16th in the standings - without even a top ten finish.

Lorenzo was the first of the full-time Honda riders to try the new, carbon-fibre reinforced frame during a grand prix weekend. Marquez then followed suit in Germany, but chose to race the standard version.

Crutchlow hopes to try the new chassis in the near future.

"The reason I haven't used it is because Lorenzo broke them all. The plan was to use it this weekend [in Germany] because he's not here, but if you see Bradl hasn't got one either because there are none left," he said.

"Marc is trying them and he's got the spare, which is absolutely fair enough. I think there are obviously some positives from it, because he's using it. Or was using it."

Marquez gave a cryptic evaluation of the new frame to the media, saying "we understand we can be even faster [with it], but we didn’t know what happens over a race distance so we came back to the [current] one.

"We know the reactions of this current chassis and with the new chassis we have some positive things but also some negative things. The negative things can sometimes create a crash. So you try to avoid this."

While stressing that he works closely with Marquez on evaluating new parts, Crutchlow made clear he wants to try the new chassis for himself.

"As I said, he [Marquez] knows he can ride the other [chassis], and maybe [the new chassis] is better for other guys but not him.

"But I have a great working relationship with him, I think he's a good guy, and we do work together. We have to, to try to improve.

"Just because I think something's better or he thinks something's better - it doesn't mean we always agree, but you have to work together on things, and we always try to do that with the Honda riders. There are no secrets with the Honda riders, that's sure."

Crutchlow has been informed that he will have unspecified new parts to try at the post-race Brno test.

"Of course I would like to try this other frame. I don't know whether the plan is to try anything to do with the frame [in the Czech Republic], but I have been told we'll have stuff to test.

"There's no point to ask yet, I'm not in Brno. We'll have the race weekend to worry about first..."