Spanish Moto GP rider Marc Márquez during the second free practice session of the Catalan Grand Prix. Enric Fontcuberta (EFE)
The first contact with the asphalt at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya confirmed that the Japanese factories continue to sink hopelessly in the MotoGP championship. The all-time great dominators, who have collected more than half of the contested titles in the event’s 75-year history and won 18 of the 22 drivers’ world championships since the new millennium, find themselves hopelessly in the background of the rankings. Every weekend seems to get worse, and on Friday in Montmeló the six Japanese bikes finished the day a second and a half behind Aleix Espargaró’s Aprilia.
MotoGP Catalonia GP: schedule and where to watch free practice
The local rider, who was born 34 years ago in neighboring Granollers, broke the course record with a time of 1.38.686 minutes, leaving the first Japanese competitor 1.420 seconds behind. Fabio Quartararo, who won on the same stage last year, was broken at the end and complained loudly about his disappointing Yamaha YZR-M1. “The bike is the same as at the beginning of the year,” replied the 2021 champion. “I’m trying to believe as much as possible for next year.” His teammate Franco Morbidelli, who will leave the Titanic for Ducati, ironically described the situation of the brand with the three tuning forks. “The problem is that we are driving in the present, not in the past,” said the Italian.
The desperation of Fabio Quartararo with his Yamaha… 👀
— DAZN Spain (@DAZN_ES) September 1, 2023
The Asian crisis in MotoGP has brought three champions to the brink of the abyss. Joan Mir, who was just 2.3 seconds from the lead on his 26th birthday, admitted he was thinking about withdrawing. The 2020 crown winner with Suzuki finished behind the satellite Hondas of Iker Lecuona and Takaaki Nakagami. “We continue to have the same problems as always,” stated the Japanese from LCR, without giving an answer to the lack of responsiveness of his compatriots in the factory. At Montmeló, a track that exposes the shame of prototypes both on motorcycles and in Formula 1, the photography was clearer than ever.
“All the weak points we have this year are in this race track. Lack of cornering, lack of traction… there is no excuse. “The others are working and we are very far away,” admitted Marc Márquez (19th), who was the only one who came close to the Yamaha. Without overloading the machine, he crashed for the 17th time this year and caused another scare at the first Grand Prix of the year when his damaged thumb ached. “We have no choice but to do a mental exercise, take it easy and continue working on improving the project.”
KTM recognizes contacts of Marc Márquez, who postpones the decision on his future: “In 2025 we will see”
The eight-time world champion was always on the podium when he completed his home race. When reminded of this, he took refuge in humor. “It’s easier to win the lottery,” he said. Both Márquez and Mir describe the test next Monday, September 11, as the most important moment of the year, a moment that seems to be decisive in determining whether there is hope for 2024 or whether it is time to live to find. Both have received offers and interest from other brands, although a hypothetical break in their relationship with Honda would be neither easy nor cheap.
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