Marquez. What does the future hold?

Marc Marquez’s injury implications and a future with KTM?

By Donovan Fourie

Marc Marquez has had a torrid three years. From seeming unbeatable in 2019 when he took 12 wins and was on the podium in every race except one, to winning just three times and on the podium four times in the last three and a bit seasons.

This is largely down to injury, especially the humerus that he broke, re-broke and then had to be operated on two more times over the next two years. Now, we find him out for three races with a broken metacarpal in his hand, and awaiting word on whether he will be able to race at Le Mans.

Apart from that, Honda seems to be in a pickle with its RC213V. At a time it seems that only Marc Marquez could ride it. 

And it seems that even he is struggling.

And he will most likely struggle more. Missing three rounds plus the Monday test at Jerez at the beginning of the season is a crippling prospect. Every year, MotoGP bikes debut new parts, new equipment, new personnel and new tech. That sort of stuff can culminate into a winning machine but it takes time and laps. Many laps.

Here is the problem – Marc Marquez hasn’t done many laps. And it’s not like the bike was hugely competitive to begin with. So far, Alex Rins took one race win at COTA and then immediately returned to the doldrums towards the bottom of the timesheets at Jerez.

When he returns, possibly at Le Mans, he will be not far, development-wise, from where he was when he crashed out at Portimao.

That crash at Portimao...

Sure, Honda may have found some new settings and gizmos that work with its other riders, but what works for everyone else doesn’t necessarily work for Marquez, and vice versa.

Podiums are few and far between for Marc these days.

The problem Honda probably has is losing direction. For seven years, Marquez was the clear leader of Honda development. The motorcycle was largely built around him and his needs. Since 2020, he has been largely absent, leaving the feedback duties to the other Honda riders, and what they say is very likely quite different to that of Marquez. It’s a motorcycle trying to serve two masters – instead of a bike custom-built for Marquez or a bike that’s good for the rest of the population, they end up with some sort of mutation of the two, neither here nor there.

And this is possibly only one problem. The next is far more macro in scale, if true – Honda isn’t putting the resources into MotoGP that it once was. Not just Honda, look at all the Japanese factories – Kawasaki and Suzuki no longer have bikes in MotoGP, while Yamaha is stuck in a similar backward spiral to Honda. Think about it – how much return on investment does Honda get from MotoGP? Don’t think about wins, Suzuki was doing quite well but quit anyway. The board of directors who approve the allocation of funds don’t care about trophies as much as the book balances.

Honda is making most of its money in Asia with small bikes and scooters, and the money it makes elsewhere is from the likes of NC750s and Africa Twins. Not so much the Fireblade. Why would they invest huge tom into MotoGP when the average scooter rider or NC750 buyer hardly knows what a Marquez is?

This leads us neatly on to the next question – what is the future for Marc Marquez? 

The resources thing is merely a theory, and if proven wrong then there is still a chance that Honda will pull its socks up before Marquez’s contract expires at the end of 2024. If not, he has a couple of options.

There’s Ducati who no doubt wouldn’t mind having a Marc Marquez on one of its bikes. It has proved to be fast in a general way, and Marquez could most likely perform some magic there. Then again Ducati is already winning. Does it need Marquez? With that in mind, Ducati would most likely take the Spaniard, but for much less pay than he’s receiving now from Honda.

The other alternative is KTM, except that KTM has the problem of too much talent. Binder and Miller are already doing great things, and Pedro Acosta is penned as the next prodigal child. 

Would he be willing to spend some time in the Tech3 Gas Gas squad? So far, no. It is yet to truly prove itself, and the injury of Pol Espargaro means it is unlikely to show its true colours this year. Although, where else would he go? The Japanese bikes are not performing either, and Ducati will probably pay him in pasta, the same is true for Aprilia.

There is another option – a third KTM team, probably under the guise of Husqvarna. Arm them with another two factory bikes piloted by Acosta and Marquez.

What a team!

Pre Season Testing

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