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MotoGP

Marquez’s crash left Honda’s last MotoGP man standing scared

by Valentin Khorounzhiy, Simon Patterson
5 min read

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Honda was down to just one MotoGP rider by the start of the German Grand Prix.

And that rider – LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami – admitted he was left riding “scared” after Marc Marquez’s fifth, weekend-ending crash at the Sachsenring.

Marquez lost the rear of his factory Honda RC213V and had a massive high-side coming through Turn 7 during the 10-minute Sunday warm-up session.

He suffered a small finger fracture and, though declared fit to ride, elected to sit out Sunday’s race, feeling too battered and bruised to participate.

It remarkably left Nakagami as the sole Honda rider on the grid for the 30-lap German Grand Prix, with neither LCR team-mate Alex Rins nor Marquez’s factory team-mate Joan Mir replaced after sustaining injuries at Mugello.

And, having got a front row seat to Marquez’s warm-up crash, Nakagami acknowledged he had been affected, while also describing the current situation as “the most difficult moment for him [Marquez] and us [Honda]”.

“This morning I was behind Marc,” he recalled. “And I saw that nasty crash.

“It wasn’t over-riding, he didn’t miss the apex. [His riding] looked nice. Just he lost the rear somehow. He made a big, big, massive high-side. And… yeah, when I saw this, honestly I was scared, myself. Because, same bike. And couple of times I had the same feeling.

“Fortunately I had no big high-side but a couple of times was really close, that feeling.

“Many corners. Not only Turn 7, where he had a crash. 5-6-7-8, also Turn 11, too. Yes. Most of the corners were really tricky.

“Even the entry, the rear somehow, this package doesn’t generate the grip. Easy to come to an entry high-side.

“But as soon as you touch the throttle, anyway no grip. So the bike is always spinning. I don’t know if it’s because of the mechanical grip or even electronics, it’s a little bit difficult to manage.”

Nakagami himself had had a fast crash through Turn 11, Waterfall, in Friday practice – one that risked exacerbating the finger injury that had ruined his end to 2022, as his hand got caught under the bike.

The big wreck was with the Kalex chassis that he had received to try this weekend due to Mir’s absence – but, even thought it wasn’t written off in the crash, Nakagami had decided to stick with the standard Honda version for the rest of the weekend due to familiarity and put off any further testing of the Kalex until Assen next week.

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Marquez has been favouring the Kalex, but Nakagami suggested it didn’t really solve Honda’s problems.

“Yesterday I spoke with him in the physio [room] and even with a different chassis, it’s exactly the same feeling.

“He doesn’t have confidence, the rear grip and the front closing.”

Nakagami acknowledged it was a “tough”, “sad” and “lonely” feeling being the only Honda in Sunday’s race, wishing the Honda absentees a “speedy recovery” and hoping to see both Marquez and Mir – with Rins absent longer-term – at Assen as “we need to keep helping develop the bike”.

For his own race, he would go on to finish 14th, 25 seconds off winner Jorge Martin.

“The weekend we couldn’t find any solution,” said Nakagami. “We are quite far from where we want to be, and the gap is massive. But I couldn’t ride better.

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“Even if I was slow, but the feeling was the limit is there. I felt like the front always closing and the rear always unstable, the bike always moving, shaking, it’s really difficult to keep pushing.

“I needed to a little bit step back and at least I wanted to see the chequered flag. And this is the most important thing at the moment, for myself and also Honda. Because if I crashed and I got an injury, it’s no one on the grid for Honda!”


Honda MotoGP weekend crashes in 2023

Overall

Marc Marquez – 12
Joan Mir – 12
Takaaki Nakagami – 5
Alex Rins – 5
Stefan Bradl – 1
Iker Lecuona – 1

Per 100 completed laps

Marquez – 3.4
Mir – 2.9
Lecuona – 1.0
Rins – 0.9
Nakagami – 0.7
Bradl – 0.5


“At least I got to give some data to them, to help them for development,” Nakagami continued.

“They understood where the problem is, where they need to improve, but we don’t have time unfortunately before Assen.

“But for the future, especially after the summer break, we believe that they will bring something to help.”

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Asked if he was able to somehow put the fear of a big crash with the RC213V aside during the race, he said: “I couldn’t forget because I felt like the limitation is there, the bike is always like this.

“Most difficult is the race distance. Somehow for maybe one lap, maybe close the eyes and you can finish one lap, but for the race distance it’s more difficult. We can’t [ride] like this and be more safe.”

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