Pecco Bagnaia has clearly been the fastest rider in the first 3 Grands Prix of the year. However, Ducati’s world champion has sown a lot and reaped little and "only" has 53 points in the standings, of which more than two thirds were obtained in Portimao, with the double sprint race/race victory. Then in Argentina he crashed when he was 2nd and in America when he was in the lead, throwing away at least forty points. He did it at the worst possible moment, the one in which his most dangerous opponents were in difficulty (like Quartararo) or out of action.
It is precisely Marquez and Bastianini that we want to talk about. The former saw the finish line only in the first recent sprint of the year, arriving on the podium and bringing home 7 points. The second, not even that, because he was involved in Marini’s crash and is still on zero points.
Both were injured. Marc had to go to the operating room to have an operation on the first metacarpal of his right hand, Enea didn't have to resort to an operation for a fractured scapula, but the consequences were identical for the two riders: missing the Termas de Rio Hondo and Austin rounds.
It might have been a major blow to their hopes for the world championship… if Pecco hadn't decided to give them a hand. Right now, Marco Bezzecchi is at the top of the standings with 64 points. The VR46 rider, although improving and fast, however, is not one of those riders who theoretically start with the idea of fighting for the title. The case of Bagnaia is different, reigning champion, and therefore the benchmark for those who want to take the trophy home. Pecco has 53 points, therefore 46 more than Marquez and - obviously - 53 more than Bastianini.
Marc and Enea should be back on the bike at Jerez. We are using the conditional as a precaution for the Spaniard, because the return of the Beast is a given while, as usual, Honda has kept the condition of its rider strictly confidential in recent weeks.
Clearly, if they both return in Spain, their condition will have to be verified, but they certainly can't be kept out of the battle when there are still 18 GPs left (and therefore 36 races) and 666 points up for grabs. A huge amount and last year Bagnaia showed that comebacks in MotoGP are possible, going from a 91-point gap to the final victory.
There is no doubt about Marc and Enea as riders, for the former just have a look at his CV, while the latter won a lot last year even with an unofficial bike. And their bikes? In this case the Italian has one more arrow in his bow than the Spaniard.
The GP23 is going well, Pecco is the proof of that, but Zarco and Martin have also been fast with the new Desmosedici. If anything, the biggest problem for the Beast is having lost so many sessions getting to know it better. Let's remember that the tests at Sepang were complicated and he didn’t shine at Portimao either, despite showing improvement. The stop came at the worst moment for him, and he might need time to get back on track, and in this sense next Monday's tests at Jerez will be very useful for him.
What about the Honda? One win doesn’t make a summer. Rins' success at Austin came on a very particular track in its layout and one that Alex loves (there he has won in all classes and in MotoGP also with Suzuki). To think that the RC213V has had all its problems solved after one Sunday would be naive to say the least.
So, for Marc, it's not all in his hands. There is a bike to sort out and who knows if on Monday we will see the famous chassis built by Kalex in the tests.
Regardless, all is not lost for Marquez and Bastianini, the battle for the title is still wide-open and they are the ones who will have to play it in the best possible way.