It’s no secret that Marc Marquez is struggling on the Honda. He has crashed 27 times so far this season, matching his record for a single campaign.
His results have been poor, with his only grand prix podium coming in the wet at Motegi. That tally is only narrowly bettered by his sprint haul, having twice visited the rostrum on Saturdays – in Portugal, before things went awry in the grand prix, and the Indian event dictated by Michelin’s stiffer rear tyre carcass for heat dispensation.
His qualifying has been better, Marquez’s all-out style helping him put the Honda places it shouldn’t be. In the Portugal season-opener, he scored pole. And at the French and Italian GPs, he was second.
At the time, Marquez’s pole lap was hailed as genius, given the woes of the winter on the RC213V. But it was done with the use of Ducati’s Enea Bastianini as a reference ahead, allowing him to bag a lap record. At Le Mans, he had Pramac’s Jorge Martin in front of him. And at Mugello, he followed Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia to qualify second.
It’s not even a new tactic for Marquez. There have been points when he has been quick enough to do the lap times on his own during his dominant years. But even then, he enjoyed the gamesmanship, forcing a rider who had to push for a time to get on with things, all the while he enjoyed being towed around to a good grid slot.
It didn’t always work. In Malaysia in 2019, he tried to do the same thing with Fabio Quartararo, slowing on his out-laps and backing off when the then-Petronas SRT rider also eased off to let the Honda go back through. On that occasion, he let too much heat drop out of his tyres and he crashed heavily at Turn 2 when he started to push. It led to him partially dislocating his shoulder and put him on course for another winter of recovery.
Marquez often says he doesn’t like the way he has to approach qualifying on the current Honda, but history shows that’s not always the case when it was to get under the skin of a rival.
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
The high point of Marquez’s season came in taking pole in Portugal using his now tried and tested tow tactic
In Thailand, he did the same thing to Jack Miller trying to get out of Q1. Throughout that session he made sure he had the KTM in front of him, at one point cutting in front of LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami to keep track position and backing off when the Australian backed off to keep his…