Honda in a fix - Stefan Bradl: "That is the Main thing the japanese are up against now"
2022 was the worst season in the history of the MotoGP project of the world’s largest motorbike manufacturer Honda. For Stefan Bradl, one thing, in particular, is missing.
For Honda, 2023 is all about making amends – making amends for the Japanese fans who have been spoilt for success, but also making amends for its riders, especially Honda superstar Marc Marquez.
Honda had another disappointing season in 2022 – Image provided by Motorsport Images
After three years of disappointment, the gap to Ducati at the top of MotoGP has grown immensely.
The Repsol Honda factory team currently sees no sun against its big rivals from Italy. In the constructors’ championship, Honda has finished sixth and dead last for the last three years.
Since Marquez’s upper arm fracture in Jerez 2020, nothing has gone right for the Japanese. The aging Spaniard knows that sooner or later he too will reach his performance peak.
A few more years at the top level are still possible, but even Marc Marquez can’z win without a rudimentarily competitive package.
With the Valencia test in November, the mood in the team diminished. A disappointed Marquez warned at the time:
“Honda must change its approach. The Japanese are too conservative in their development. We can’t win in 2023 with this bike.”
That doesn’t seem to have changed much in the time since Valencia. In an interview with Speedweek.com, Honda test rider gives further insight:
“The MotoGP World Championship has changed. Marc can’t play to his strengths on the current bike like he used to. He always has to go to work with too much risk.”
Listening to the German, Marquez has also changed in his approach, he said.
“He realizes that he is no longer able to keep the risk so high. He has to put more back and rely more on the bike.”
Bradl substituted for Marc Marquez a couple of times in 2022 – Image provided by Motorsport Images
In recent years, the dependence on a strong bike has increased more and more. Changes in the aerodynamics of the MotoGP rockets and the increased use of ride height devices potentiated the dependence even more.
In a time of great and rapid technical change in the premier class of motorcycling, Ducati in particular became the leader in innovation.
With ever-new imaginative upgrades, the Italians gained a remarkable lead over their Japanese competitors. Aprilia followed suit during the last winter break, and KTM will try to do the same this winter.
The Japanese manufacturers seem to take a little longer for everything. In the field of aerodynamics, Honda in particular is lagging behind.
Stefan Bradl, who as a test rider is heavily involved in the development of the 2023 Honda, is going even further:
“It’s not just one single area that needs to be improved, there are several.”
The 2011 Moto2 World Champion is frustrated with Honda’s work – unlikely, there is a quick way out of the Japanese misery.
“Honda has never been the pioneer of such experiments as Ducati has done in recent years, but that is the main thing the Japanese are up against now. There is a lack of courage to experiment at Honda.”