As the new year begins, the 2021 MotoGP championship moves ever closer. While there has been various reshuffling between teams, there is one that appears to be in greater difficulty than the others.
Namely, the Honda team, which can count only on the newly hired Pol Espargaro for both its winter tests, which should take place at Sepang during February, and the start of the season come March.
The Marquez situation still to be resolved
We know very little about Marc Marquez physical condition. Following a third operation, the Spaniard suffered from a serious infection of the arm. He now needs to recover from the bone transplant that was carried out in order to strengthen his humerus, fractured six months ago (his accident dates back to 19 July at Jerez).
How long will he need? His recovery time is uncertain, also because a premature return could put Marquez’s entire career at risk. And while Marquez dreams of wearing his leathers as soon as possible, Honda should be more realistic and secure a new rider who can stand in for him.
Another “flop” of a season is not possible
In 2021, Honda cannot afford another negative season like the one it has just completed. Although the injury of its rider, the very man who has secured them six world titles thus far (Marquez won in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019), took them by surprise last season, it’s now time to reflect and seek a substitute who can contribute to scoring some strong results.
2021 will see Pol Espargarò aboard the factory RC213V, replacing Alex Marquez who moves to team LCR, but what will the former KTM rider be capable of? He’ll definitely need some time to adapt before he is able to ride well, while Marc Marquez will continue to be missed on the other side of the garage.
A substitute is needed!
And so, as it awaits the return of the eight-time champion, Honda must find a replacement at all costs, but who? The MotoGP market isn’t exactly open right now, in fact the strongest riders already have already secured a ride. It won’t be easy for Honda considering that Marquez’s substitute might find himself riding the RC213V for just a few races, or perhaps several months.
As of now, and despite it looking more unlikely than likely, the most suitable rider would be Andrea Dovizioso. The former Ducati rider is without a seat for 2021, having chosen to take a sabbatical. Honda could be a great opportunity, helping him on his quest to find a full-time ride for 2022.
But other options include a Moto2 rider or, why not, a rider ‘on loan’ from Lucio Cecchinello’s LCR team. Takaaki Nakagami? Or Alex Marquez? One thing is clear though, and that is that whichever rider is chosen, they will be out of the championship as soon as Marc Marquez returns.
No question: Dovi should take Marc’s place
And this is why Andrea Dovizioso looks to be the most plausible option. Sure, there’s also Honda’s test rider Stefan Bradl who could step in again as he did in 2020, but Honda can’t simply stand by and observe and it really needs a rider like Dovi who, as well as being very talented, is also motivated to do well in order to return to his rightful place in MotoGP.
Translated by Heather Watson