"Marc Marquez is a MotoGP Champ, he shouldn’t need a wheel to follow"- Joan Mir

Joan Mir calls out Marc Marquez for his questionable towing tactics after the six-time MotoGP World Champion crashed out again during Q2 at Misano

"Marc Marquez is a MotoGP Champ, he shouldn’t need a wheel to follow"- Joan Mir

Joan Mir says it is ‘difficult to understand’ why a rider of Marc Marquez’s calibre feels the need to adopt a strategy of ‘caravanning’ during qualifying to haul him further up the grid following a crash-strewn qualifying session for the San Marino MotoGP.

The Suzuki rider - who ended Marquez’s five-year run of MotoGP world titles in his absence last season - was critical of his rival’s persistent tactic of tucking in behind another rival on a fast lap after the Repsol Honda rider crashed out of the session.

Marquez was closely following eventual pole winner Pecco Bagnaia when he slid out at Turn 5, leaving him seventh on the grid.

It is a strategy Marquez frequently employs - not least in Q1 when wild-carding test rider Stefan Bradl was deployed to tow him around - and one that has irked rivals in the past, notably at Mugello when he bumped Maverick Vinales out of the top 12 after following him around in Q1.

However, his crash on Saturday was the latest incident to come using those methods. He crashed in Assen while attempting to tow Johann Zarco, while he famously came off at the start of a qualifying lap at Sepang in 2019 following a farcical warm-up lap spent crawling behind Fabio Quartararo, who almost came to a standstill to try and shake him off.

Indeed, Mir says the latest crash should tell Marquez that he is good enough not to need to risk such a tactic.

"Well about Marc, I think all the riders know what Marc needs, no? He always needs a wheel to be strong or something," Mir told reporters after qualifying 11th, the result of an erroneous dash message to pit that left him no chance to complete his final fast lap.

"It is difficult to understand for me how an eight-time world champion cannot make his job on his own and always needs some wheel [to follow].

"But it is a game that Marc always loves to play and that's it. Today was me. I try to make my job and I don’t care if I have someone on my back. I try to give my 100 percent and work for the race."

To tow or not to tow: A MotoGP dilemma

With such fine margins in MotoGP, the practice of towing - though broadly frowned upon by riders - is nonetheless one most will employ at certain venues, such as Mugello, to whittle one’s lap time down by a few hundredths.

However, there are those for whom the practice has become almost par for the course. Indeed, if a rider is particularly quick in Q1 or Q2, they can almost guarantee the moment they pull out of their pit box Marquez will be right with them or waiting for them at the end of the pit lane.

It isn’t against the regulations per se - though riders who slow intentionally on track to then tuck behind another rider will be penalised - but it is a frustration.

As to whether it makes a difference, that’s debatable. Quartararo should be credited for completing nearly all of his Q2 lap times - which have earned him 13 front row starts from 14 now - all on his own, the Frenchman showing that getting one’s head down and focusing on your own performance has clear benefits.

It’s a testament to neither Marquez nor the Honda exerting the kind of advantage it once had and the Spaniard’s tactics do reek of some desperation. It is also risky, especially at fast and flowing Misano, given the alarming frequency Marquez has spent dragging himself up and out of a gravel trap since his return to action this year.

It’s unlikely Marquez will stop the practice though one may ask whether it is setting an appropriate example to the Moto3 generation, a group that have been called out several times for some rather questionable tactics when it comes to achieving a slipstream.