Marc Marquez could test 2019 Honda as riders criticise handling issues

Marc Marquez, Alex Marquez and Cal Crutchlow have eached sounded their concerns about the handling problems affecting their Honda MotoGP bikes

Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda

UPDATE: Marquez has tested Nakagami's 2019-spec Honda at Losail

The 2020 MotoGP World Championship season opener is just around the corner and it’s becoming increasingly evident that defending champions Repsol Honda may have gone the wrong way on bike development after all riders struggled for form in Qatar testing.

The champions endured a tricky opener at Sepang but largely put it down to Marc Marquez’s ongoing recovery from a shoulder injury and team-mate Alex Marquez’s rookie status, but the unspectacular lap times – both over a single lap and a race simulation – have continued to Qatar, while the duo along with Cal Crutchlow have fallen several times.

Though the Losail International Circuit hasn’t always been the most favourable for Marquez and Honda, the six-time MotoGP champion concedes there are fundamental issues with the bike.

"That weak point of the motorcycle is created in all the corners,” he told Marca. “We know where it is but not how to solve it. We are trying to know where the problems come from because there are critical points of the motorcycle that manifest in all the curves.”

Now it is being reported by that Marquez could revert to a 2019 RC213V on the final day of testing. This could be simply to run side-by-side comparisons, or it could indicate more serious concerns about the 2020 chassis that can't be fixed.

Echoing his brother's concerns, Alex Marquez added his voice to the concern, saying all Honda riders are suffering due to a lack of stability into the corners.

“We are suffering all the Hondas,” the MotoGP rookie said. “We need to turn the bike and find stability at the entrance of the corners. There is still a lot. In the fast corners we lose a lot. The circuit was something that could be expected, but I didn’t expect it to be this much.

“I don't feel very good on the bike, especially in the middle of the corner. Let's see if we can change the set-up.”

Crutchlow, meanwhile, says he feels like an ‘amateur’ on the bike as he attempts to tame it. The Briton suffered a fall at Turn 2 on Sunday, causing swelling in his arm that prevented him from moving his fingers.

Marc Marquez sparking panic at Repsol Honda?

This rather damning assessment from Marquez will be a major concern for Honda, though anyone who follows MotoGP will recognise his comments from those of Crutchlow last year.

Honda has long risked putting too many eggs into one basket with Marquez by creating a machine so on the edge only its star rider can extract the best from its consistently.

However, while many may have expected an injury timeout for Marquez to really expose Honda’s scant race winning options elsewhere, it appears to have instead developed its already specialist RC213V away from the rider they crafted it for.

That said, if we take a step back for a moment though, there are other factors to take into consideration. Losail is one of the Honda’s weaker circuits, one that amplifies flaws not shared by other machines, meaning it’s not unusual to see Honda out of place on the timesheets here.

Moreover, Marquez is having to adapt his riding style to compensate for his shoulder meaning he is more susceptible to issues if he isn’t 100 per cent comfortable on the bike.

It means Honda’s fortunes could right itself once Marquez is fully fit and returns to more favourable venues.

In short, rivals are not going to be fooled if Marquez turns up top of the timesheets as if nothing had happened when the all-important season does kick off…