“Marc has given an ultimatum”

He has not been on the starting grid for three seasons and it could be said that Not much remains of that MotoGP World Championship from which Jorge Lorenzo said goodbye as a rider. That 2019, Marc Márquez was world champion again in his most spectacular season with Honda, while Yamaha and Ducati continued to search for the key to take off towards the top. A year later, the tables have been turned between Europeans and Japanese. It is true that the Iwata brand won in 2021 with Quartararo, but his dominance did not last long before some Italians who came stomping and that have been sealing their hegemony in motorcycling ever since. And 2022 was the big bang. Bagnaia made it possible in MotoGP and Bautista in Superbikes with a superiority that nothing and nobody knew how to stop. The trend is repeated in this 2023, writing a story that the Spaniard would have liked to be part of during his time at the brand in 2017 and 2018: “It’s a great shame it didn’t happen when I was there.”

Lorenzo confesses, in a chat with MotoGP.comthat his bet was “very risky at that time” and, although he did win races with the Italian team, the appearance of a Honda offer on his desk was something he couldn’t refuse. Pedrosa was leaving at the end of the year and had to give in to the interest of a historic brand that, moreover, had been winning everything with Márquez since his own title in 2015 with Yamaha. The opportunity was so unique that he could not reject it, in fact, it was the pilot himself who looked for it, despite the fact that later nothing would go as expected of a multi-champion like him. And Lorenzo was fully aware: “Honda is probably the strongest team, the one that has won the most world titles, the one that probably has the biggest budget… But not always the strongest team is the one that wins. You have to do everything perfectly and you also need luck.” It was not his case, because a fall in Assen left him out of the game for a few races and was the great determinant for him to make the decision to stop at the end of that course.

Since then, he has joined the club of an increasingly common thought: “The Honda is a motorcycle with which only Marc can win championships.” As much as the brand tries to deny it, even its own pilots end up giving in to an overwhelming reality. The truth is that, except for the ilerdense, the only one who has achieved it since 2018 has been Álex Rins and, looking inside the Repsol Honda, we have to go back to Pedrosa, in Valencia 2017. “It’s a shame,” confesses Lorenzo, “because They have great potential in many aspects.” Although the greatest potential of the RC213V was lost along the way a long time ago and, coincidentally, it coincides with Marc’s great injury in 2020. They lost their star and their direction. “With Márquez they won many world championships because of his talent, his attitude, his physical condition… he is an incredible driver. But, on the other hand, he is a very special rider, who needs some very specific characteristics on the bike”, explains Jorge.

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relationship in distress

“They completely followed the path of Marc Márquez and it seems that this path is only for Marc Márquez. For the rest of the pilots it becomes very difficult to get results. I think that 10-15 years ago the standard Honda was very good for all the riders, but now it is specially made for Márquez”, says the five-time world champion who also hints that the relationship between both parties no longer enjoys the same health as years ago: “It seems that the romance between Marc and Honda is not the same, something has changed. Probably because Marc was used to winning almost every year with Honda and now, after three years without a win, this love for Honda has ended a bit.

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The situation seems increasingly critical and, although the Japanese factory does not stop looking for improvements, they still cannot find a remedy. The Kalex chassis, which Márquez has not yet been able to test, seems to have left no great comments on the brand from Mir or Bradl, so HRC is still at a loss without knowing where to go. Those of the ‘golden wing’ are more focused than ever, although Lorenzo assures that Marc “needs a reaction from Honda” that does not mean having the best motorcycle, “but one that is close to Ducati, which for now is the best on the grid”. “We’ll see if they can pick up this romance a bit or if the relationship will drift further apart. Only time and results will tell. It seems that Marc has given Honda an ultimatum, not only in private, but also in public”, says the former MotoGP rider, who has always trusted in the resurgence of the Japanese.

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