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MotoGP, Honda and Yamaha, sisters in defeat: not just a technical crisis

The RC213V and the M1 have lost their competitive edge, but that's not the only problem. In Tokyo they didn't believe they could lose Marquez, in Iwata their satellite team

MotoGP: Honda and Yamaha, sisters in defeat: not just a technical crisis

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The two Japanese sisters are united in their bad times. The battle between them is not to be last in the manufacturers' standings, with Yamaha currently ahead of Honda by just 4 points. Things aren't any better in the teams’ classification, with the official Iwata team 6th and the Tokyo team disconsolately last. Finally, in the riders' championship the best placing for someone riding a motorcycle coming from the Land of the Rising Sun is 10th place for Quartararo, while Marc Marquez is 16th. However, there are those who are worse off, like Mir 22nd and behind Dani Pedrosa who has raced just 2 GPs this year.

The situation is critical, with Honda at least able to boast (if we can say so) the victory in Austin with Rins, while Yamaha has to settle for Fabio's three podiums. Not much more than crumbs for two bikes that in the recent past fought for the World Championship and are now reduced to being extras.

The fall of the gods: few ideas and confused

 

The M1 was every rider’s dream: easy, reliable, fast. A godsend for MotoGP rookies, as it was for Zarco or Quartararo (on the podium as a rookie) or for those who had to move on, like Dovizioso who left Honda. It seems incredible, but the bike that won the World Championship only two years ago (and fought for it until the last race last season) is now no longer wanted by anyone, not even those who ride it. “It has no strong points, it would take 15 winters to reduce the gap from its opponents” is the summary of Fabio's position.

It has been known for some time that the Yamaha is not the most well-endowed when it comes to horsepower, but at least before you could count on other qualities. Something that the M1 seems to have lost and all hopes are pinned on Marmorini, an engineer with an important past in Formula 1, not in a magicians’ academy. So, even if he manages to squeeze the 4 cylinder inline unit, he will probably need something more, which isn't there at the moment, with so many experiments and few results in the recent past.

This is what happens to those who chase and are no longer able to innovate, as is also the case with Honda. The two years without Marquez due to injuries have sunk the RC213V without trace and no one no longer knows how to save it. The change of engineers did not lead to the desired results and the Tokyo bike stands out for the many crashes it causes its riders rather than for the results. The victory at Austin was the exception that confirms the rule, the one that says that the bike that came out of the HRC racing department has nothing good and everything to change.

At least once, there was a rider who managed to race it and bring it to success, but now even Marquez has had to raise the white flag and his brand mates are at the mercy of the waves. If we add that not even test rider Stefan Bradl was able to save the project (something he has in common with his counterpart Crutchlow at Yamaha), it is clear what point we have reached.

Bad choices and an uncertain future

 

Placing all the blame on the engineers, however, would not be fair. The management has also been lacking and Alberto Puig and Lin Jarvis have some mea culpas to make. The Spaniard started with the fact that he 'gave' Dani Pedrosa to KTM, then didn't listen to Jorge Lorenzo and from then on everything got worse. Until finding himself at the end of October with a free place in the official team.

Not wanting to believe that Marquez could have abandoned ship was certainly not an example of foresight. So it happened and there wasn't even a shred of a plan B ready, as if we weren't even talking about the most successful team in MotoGP. Puig's recent declarations ("there isn't much to choose from" referring to Marc's replacement) make it clear how warm the welcome will be for those who arrive. Probably not Oliveira, who was only offered a one-year contract, perhaps Di Giannantonio, with a CV that wouldn't have even warranted a glance a few years ago.

Those who remain, however, are unmotivated: Nakagami makes the best of things knowing that staying in Honda is the only way to continue racing in MotoGP, Mir has even thought about retiring. Yes, Joan, an example of consistency when he won the title in the premier class, who instead this season has picked up more crashes than points. Those who can have left the sinking ship, Rins without thinking too much about it, Marquez took longer but in the end he did it. Alex would have been perfect to replace Marc, but after being treated like a second-tier rider (despite the win he was not involved in the development) he said goodbye. Zarco, who is arriving, has already sensed the climate by declaring: "I expected more enthusiasm from Honda".

Athens cries, as does Sparta, because not even Yamaha is free from flaws. The most serious was letting Razali's RNF team go. After all, Tech3 had already left Iwata, a sign that the life of the customer teams in those parts is not idyllic. The consequence was to find themselves alone at the moment when they most needed a shoulder (at least to cry on). They hope to convince Valentino Rossi to return to the family with his team for 2025, but looking at the performance of the M1 this is not such a foregone conclusion.

The result is that Quartararo seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown and he is already thinking about who will be able to welcome him at the end of 2024. He is fed up with broken promises and cannot think of wasting any more years chasing a chimera. He is probably envious of Morbidelli, for whom fortune has reserved a Ducati for next year. Hope may be the last to die, but those who live hoping...

 

 

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