Finally summer break. Finally time to recover. To cure injuries and find new strength. After eight world championship stops, the first half of the 2023 MotoGP season ended with the race in Assen. In six weeks, the season continues at Silverstone. Let’s use the summer break to draw a small interim conclusion. What was good? Where is there still room for improvement? Who were the winners? Who were the losers?
Sprint racing – entertainment vs. stress
The most serious innovation of the current MotoGP season was probably the introduction of sprint races. There was a lot of speculation in advance about where the races would be integrated and what effect they would have. First of all, the sprint races have fulfilled their basic purpose of “increasing the excitement”. It also seems to have been successful that the spectators increasingly find their way to the track or in front of the TV on Saturday. So all in all, a positive change? No. From the very beginning, the euphoria for the sprint races was offset by the additional workload. Much was suspected in advance, but not even the most die-hard pessimists could have imagined how things would turn out right at the start of the 2023 season.
Right at the start, the lazaretto of injured drivers filled up at breakneck speed. Already after the first race of the season in Portimao, four MotoGP riders were missing. There were to be even more. The injuries continue throughout the season. Due to the reduced number of laps in the sprint races, the MotoGP riders are quickly tempted to take a higher risk. The riders have to get a good place in a short time to avoid losing valuable points. Higher risk and more races also means more injuries. Let’s hope that there will be talks soon to take some pressure off the current procedure.
Manufacturer – development vs. stagnation
What had already been announced in the past two seasons was confirmed in the first half of the season – Ducati is a superior force. The manufacturer from Borgo Panigale currently leads the Constructors’ World Championship with 285 points. Behind them are KTM (153 points) and Aprilia (121 points). Honda and Yamaha are in the bottom two positions, with less than a hundred points each.
Of course, Ducati as a manufacturer also collects more points, since they supply four teams of eight riders each. But, if they hadn’t been so good in recent years, customer teams wouldn’t choose Ducati either. Ducati used to be considered unrideable. Only Casey Stoner was able to win races and titles with the red diva. Even Valentino Rossi had to admit defeat to the Diva.
Gigi Dall’Igna’s move to Ducati changed everything. He is the driving force behind the innovations. He made the Ducati not only rideable and competitive, but also supposedly invincible.
Ducati managed to rethink. To develop a motorcycle that suits every rider. Something that Honda and also Yamaha still have to do. Currently, the Japanese manufacturers have missed the boat. It seems as if they have stopped. They lack resources and ideas. The six-week summer break may not bring the turnaround, but perhaps a first and second step there.
Marc Marquez – Ambition vs. common sense
Marc Marquez is not competitive with his Honda. The Honda has already been criticized in recent years. It lacks performance, grip and feel for the rider. Added to this are electronic failures and a lack of concept in aerodynamics. To put it bluntly, the Honda is a total failure.
Marc Marquez tries to compensate for all this with his driving class. Again and again he reaches his limits and exceeds them. The sad highlight was the German GP at the Sachsenring. In his last eleven starts, Marc Marquez remained unbeaten. Like no other, the Honda rider dominated at the Sachsenring. This dominance ended in the gravel this season. With five crashes, he set a personal record. In the end, Marquez did not start at the Sachsenring.
With injuries it went to the last race before the summer break in Assen. There, too, the Honda rider visited the gravel bed. Via social media he announced on Sunday that he will not participate in the race on Sunday this time either. As at the Sachsenring, he withdrew. The reason he gave was his injuries – ankle injury, broken finger and a broken rib. Marc Marquez was not ready to give any more. It seemed as if he had learned from the last crashes. Learned that it is not worth giving too much when it is hopeless. Is it realism or some kind of abandonment after all?
The last two MotoGP races showed that the relationship between Marc Marquez and Honda is not only strained, but has experienced a rupture. It was clear to see in the reactions of Marquez. There, after a save at the Sachsenring, the Honda is shown the middle finger or after a crash the machine is only punished with contempt. The ambition and fighting spirit is fading. The contract of Marquez still runs until the end of 2024, whether this still exists until the end, is in the stars. Perhaps there is still a loophole to end the contract early before it culminates in even more injuries.
The summer break has begun. Six weeks to take a deep breath and gather strength. The next 12 races are already waiting.
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