When will Marc Marquez be back? There is no clear answer to this right now. The Spaniard continues to reassure everyone, regularly updating his fans as to his recovery following the incident at Jerez, but his entourage doesn’t want to push too hard.
On hand to step in for him in the meantime is Stefan Bradl, a now irreplaceable figure in the Repsol Honda garage. The German continues to clock up the miles aboard the new RC213V and after testing at Jerez, he will also ride at Losail from 5 March.
Stefan’s dual role
His dual role as test rider and replacement rider for Marc is raising questions in the paddock. According to certain members of staff, the fact that he has carried out so many tests gives the German an unfair advantage, as he'll have many more miles under his belt than other riders by the time they get to the opening race.
"HRC has had chance to carry out tests in the way that only a team with concessions can. This is unfair with respect to the other manufacturers", sporting director KTM Pit Beirer tells Speedweek. "We’ll talk about the fact that, in future, a test rider should be authorised to replace another rider a maximum of three or four times per year. We don’t have an issue with Stefan, it’s about equal opportunity".
On a similar wavelength to Beirer is Johan Stigefelt, Petronas Team Director.
"Stefan is an excellent test rider and last season he took part in several races, thanks to which he has definitely grown and shown to be competitive”, stated Stigefelt during the Zoom conference following the 2021 team presentation.“During the winter, he’s carried out various test days and we’ll talk about this in Qatar”.
We’ll see how this story plays out at Losail. The idea is to limit the number of races in which a test rider can compete over the course of a season.
Translated by Heather Watson