Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 07 Aug 2015
By his own standards, Marc Marquez got off to a terrible start to this year’s MotoGP season. After the first three races he’d lost 30 points to championship leader Valentino Rossi after a fifth place in Qatar and dramatically crashing out in Argentina.
With two further DNFs since the third round, Marquez now sits 65 points behind the Italian.
Marquez has won just twice this season, once at Austin, where he has dominated since making his Grand Prix debut in 2013, and last time out at Sachsenring, where he made the rest of the field look slow all weekend.
The root of Marquez’ problem has been his dissatisfaction with Honda’s 2015 RC213V. The Spaniard had so much of an issue with the factory’s 2015 chassis he switched back to last year’s option for the last two races. From this, he went on to finish second, after coming agonisingly close to victory, in Assen and of course then came his victory in Germany.
Marquez is not alone in struggling with the Honda. The bike has a lot of power, potentially too much (yes, there is such a thing), and really aggressive engine braking, meaning it’s quite difficult for the Spaniard to enter corners in his usual style. Dani Pedrosa has also been struggling, as have satellite riders Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding.
Whether Marquez continues with Honda’s 2014 chassis or not, he isn’t in as bad a position as some might think. Before the German round, the gap to the championship lead was 74 points but with the Spaniard finishing first and Rossi taking third, he made up nine points on the Italian.
If he can make up that sort of margin just a few more times, the gap begins to close substantially and with nine races remaining of the 2015 season, it is possible.
On paper, Marquez should win at Indianapolis this weekend and should Pedrosa be on form, there’s no reason he shouldn’t finish second. Indianapolis has been dominated by Honda riders since 2009, with the hard-on-the-brakes in and super-acceleration out style of the Honda suiting the iconic American circuit.
However, there have been a few changes made to the circuit layout over the past 12 months, changes that make the circuit a little more fast and flowing – meaning the Yamahas, which boast a significant advantage in mid-corner speed, have much more of a chance.
The Honda should also come in to its own at the next round at Brno, in Aragon and of course the Honda-owned Motegi circuit too – meaning there are plenty of potential chances for Marquez to bring home more points than his Yamaha rivals, and, as in Germany, should Pedrosa be there to help him increase his points haul, that’s even better.
To bridge the gap, Marquez needs an average of 7.2 points more than Rossi per race. Does that sound insurmountable? No, it’s not.
One thing against Marquez will be that the Yamahas typically enjoy a strong second half of the season. Last year the factory Yamaha duo of Rossi and Lorenzo scored more points than Marquez and Pedrosa in the second half of the season. Should that happen again, the title will go to Yamaha.
There’s an old adage in racing that ‘anything can happen’ and this season is proof of that. Who would have expected Marc Marquez, who took back-to-back titles and started last season with ten victories in a row, to fall three times in the first half of the season? With nine rounds left, anything can still happen, so let’s not be ruling any one of the three protagonists out just yet.