On Sunday evening, in the Silverstone paddock, people were trying to cast their minds back and recall the last time a Honda engine had let down the rider during a race. “The fact that everyone's asking that means that the level of reliability is very high” smiles team principal Livio Suppo.
Scouring the archives, we find that the last technical failure of this kind for HRC dates back almost ten years, to the Phillip Island GP of 2007, when Nicky Hayden was forced to stop at the side of the track 15 laps from the end of the race.
“The engine is in Japan now, our technicians are examining it and then we'll have a clearer idea. If there are problems, I'm sure they'll be able to solve them but a malfunction every so often is simply a matter of statistics - explains Suppo - The important thing is that Marquez was competitive also at Silverstone, the next race is at Misano where we've completed a positive test, so we're optimistic”.
If the problem only relates to that particular engine, Marquez shouldn't have any problems finishing the season while staying inside the limit of 7 engines, as set out by the regulation. The engine that went up in smoke in the UK was his 4th, homologated at Brno and used for 12 sessions, including the second part of the flag-to-flag race in the Czech Republic.
Limited mileage, with Marquez himself having spoken of a ‘fresh’ engine. As you can see in the table above, MotoGP engines have achieved an enviable level of reliability. Marc's 2nd unit was used for 39 sessions, including two races, while the first and third each completed 4 races without problems. With 7 engines per season, if the Silverstone failure is a one-off, Marc should not have any trouble.
Honda, Ducati and Yamaha are actually pretty aligned in terms of engine use. If we look at the top 5 riders in the standings, all are using their 5th engine, with Ducati and Honda using it since the Austrian GP and Yamaha as of Brno.
As you can see from the rider tables, with 6 GPs still to run, everyone has a margin in terms of engine use. Marquez now has a small disadvantage compared to Dovizioso, Rossi, Vinales and Pedrosa, but it's not a red alert situation just yet.
Looking at the other riders, the Tech 3 pairing of Folger and Zarco stands out, the only riders to have only used 4 engines, while Crutchlow and Baz are on 6. The same goes for Smith and Pol Espargarò, but KTM benefits from a concession system and has 9 engines per year, as does Aprilia, which has already used 7 with Aleix Espargarò.