MotoGP Portimao: An Enigma To The Perfect New Honda
Having spent most of its racing debut in Qatar at the hands of Paul Espargaro en route to third place, the new RCV has not finished on the podium since, leaving Honda bottom of the MotoGP standings.
Again, the results of Honda have come down to Marc Marquez’s injury, although another dose of COTA magic from the eight-time World Champion would have seen the podium, at least, without any technical issues at the starting line.
However, after a week, Marquez has to face the reality in Portimao as brother Alex (LCR Honda) and Pol Espargaro were seen fighting hard for the sixth position. They were sixteen seconds behind the race winner, Fabio Quartararo.
Marquez afterward quotes that he is well aware of everybody about expecting more, but his team is not ready to fight for the victory. He also said that qualifying in one lap is one lap only, but he is not feeling good. That is why they have made a small change in the bike that will help him fight in the race, but that is also not enough for him.
He said that at the very beginning, he is not riding comfortably. There is no speed. He finished sixteen seconds behind the leader. He said that he was three to four seconds down to the first laps. However, after that, he doesn’t have the speed required for recovering the positions.
Therefore, it is not the position they are thinking of finishing, but now they are going to Jerez to perform another step.
Moreover, while we witnessed highly competitive RCV during pre-season testing at Sepang and Mandalika, Marquez, the Qatar season opener, was skeptical of how the bike would respond to different levels of grips.
In this context, he stated that for some Honda riders, it was an amazing bike, but according to him, one should be careful as there is a lot of rubber on the track, and the condition for the races will also differ. The team has to check how the track of Jerez is. Then they have to occur for a significant test too. Furthermore, to be in the top positions, they have to perform some steps as well because acquiring 5th or 6th podiums is not the way of fighting for the championship.
For Pol Espargaro, The Next Bike Was Perfectly Working In Qatar and Pre-Season
Despite the special design of the rear tire at Mandalika, Espargaro, delighted to see the rear traction of the radically new bike improve during winter testing, cannot explain why its performance has changed so much.
In an interview in Portimao, Espargaro was not happy with the race. He said that the rhythm of the race is slow because he hasn’t seen any Honda with a better feeling than my own. He also addressed the performance of Alex and Marc by saying that they were fast in the beginning, and he was a little bit faster at the end. Yet, the results were exactly the same.
He said that he is missing the things they had in the pre-season, and it has been pretty much difficult to understand. Because with the rear brake, they don’t know where to stop the bike. They are also leaning too much in opening the throttle and spinning on the edge.
While Mark Marquez joined the rest of the field on the center rear tire, Espargaro and Alex Marquez went hard. Espargaro added that he chose the hard because he feels better while accelerating in traction. However, Marc tried the medium and end up getting the same bad result. For them, it was like choosing either side grip or acceleration with drive grip, and at the end of the day, they both have similar outcomes.
He also addressed the difficulty he was having with the bike. He said that the bike he was using was perfectly working in Qatar and the pre-season. Since they haven’t made any big change in it, they are facing the problems.
In Qatar, they were not only the fastest over one lap but also faster concerning the rhythm so far. That is why they didn’t think of changing the bike. They just added some things, small details, that are not producing these big changes, and now they have to suffer.
He said that for the Jerez race, they have to fight for unity. Everyone should fight together to get better results. During the test, they should try different things that help in picking them up a little.
An “Enigma” Machine
When asked about Marquez's theory about the problem being related to the change in traction after winter testing, Espargaro replied that it can be the problem. However, in the pre-season, they have normally been in places where they normally struggle with grip. They even struggled in hot conditions, where the track is about 50 degrees celsius. They even have a very low grip in Indonesia and Malaysia. However, they are successful in generating a perfect grip, which is not in this track anymore.
He further replied that Marc begin the race in Malaysia with his old 2021 bike, and he jumped in the new bike in this race, which is much better and much faster for him. The thing is now that the grip is low, and it is significant to be better than the others in testing. It is an enigma they are trying to figure out and expecting to get some answers in Jerez.
Alex Marquez Said That They Are Taking A Lot Of Time To Make Geometrical Changes For Jerez
Although the seventh position in Portimao is considered the best result for Alex, it underscores the fear of Espargaro and his older brother Marc. he said that since he was in the seventh position in the end. However, he was sixteen seconds behind the front guy, which according to him, is a lot for this track. That is why the team had to improve. He said that though he was happy with the overall performance of the team this weekend, the sufferance occurs when everything is fit and conditions are very dry.
He mainly was concerned about the front of the bike. He said that he is still experiencing difficulty with the front of the bike as it takes too much time to turn. This is where they miss more. So, they have a good grip performance but need a little improvement in the front.
Alex Marquez planned to try some extreme geometric setups during practice at Portimao but bad weather pushed them to Jerez.
He also said that they have to examine whether the problem of the front bike is coming from the weight distribution or the chassis side. He also revealed that the team had a lot of plans in their mind concerning the geometry, to see the direction of the flow. However, the bad weather made a full stop to the plan. Therefore, the Monday test in Jerez is significant as it will help them to try things and determine the way they should follow and which Honda needs to work.
Despite losing two of five races and not finishing better than fifth in the remaining races, Marc Marquez now leads Honda in the World Championship standings in eleventh place. Paul Espargaro is one point behind, with Alex Marquez in 17th and Takaaki Nakagami (eliminated at Portimao) in 18th.