Marquez: COVID hit Asian MotoGP manufacturers harder than Europeans

Ducati’s Jack Miller (left) and Honda’s Marc Marquez (right). Picture: MotoGP.com

Marc Marquez believes that the COVID-19 pandemic helps explain why Japanese manufacturers have been surpassed by Europeans in MotoGP.

Yamaha, Suzuki, and Marquez’s Honda have won the last 14 riders’ championships, following Casey Stoner’s triumph for Ducati in 2007.

However, though the 2007 season was followed by 11 in which either of Honda or Yamaha won the constructors’ championship, Ducati has claimed that title on the last three occasions, including already wrapping it up for 2022.

While that can be partially explained by the prevalence of Desmosedicis on grid, even if constructors’ points are scored only by the best placed entry, Ducati and fellow Italian marque Aprilia have arguably developed the best bikes in the field, while KTM is on an upswing now too.

Honda, on the other hand, has become almost totally reliant on Marquez, and Yamaha is becoming a similar case with respect to Fabio Quartararo, the 2021 champion.

According to Marquez, logistical challenges caused by the pandemic, which Yamaha raised as a major concern before the belated start to the 2020 season, explains some of that.

“The pandemic affected our sport and, once it has passed, it has been seen that the Asian factories as Honda, Yamaha or Suzuki have been more affected than others,” said the six-time premier class champion in an interview for personal sponsor Estrella Galicia.

“I think it has hurt them even more especially because in 2020 and 2021 most of the championship was done at European circuits.

“Then all the Asian engineers came to live in Europe, but they were no longer in the factory.

“A lot of communication and level of work went down a bit, although it’s no excuse because at the end of the day you are in a world championship and you have to know how to adapt to changes as well, otherwise you are overtaken, and in this case, maybe because of protocol and everything that went with it, there were bigger forces that they couldn’t adapt to.”

Marquez’s comments follow his thinly disguised message to Honda Racing Corporation at August’s Austria Grand Prix, which he attended to essentially keep an eye on the team given he was still unfit to ride after surgery on his right arm.

Then, he argued that their problem was not with the bike per se, but with the ‘project’, including communication.

“In this case, Honda has worked and right now they are still working because normality has returned in their country,” #93 added in the Estrella Galicia interview.

“Let’s hope that for 2023 they take a big step forward, but I can’t reproach them for anything because I see that the effort is maximum, the involvement is maximum too and I can feel in them the desire to win again.

“Then there is also the importance of making every step in the right direction.”

Marquez has gone DNF, fourth, and fifth in his three races back since the fourth operation on the arm that he badly broke in the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix and, despite missing much of the 2022 campaign, is still Honda’s highest-scoring rider.

The Australian Grand Prix is next at Phillip Island, practice for which starts on Thursday, October 14.

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