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MotoGP

Marquez’s German GP weirdly inspiring for fellow struggling star

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
5 min read

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Marc Marquez’s 2023 German Grand Prix was an extremely painful and public calamity – but at least one fellow MotoGP champion found an aspirational side to it.

Six-time MotoGP champion Marquez crashed his Honda on five separate occasions – once in practice, three times in qualifying, once in Sunday morning warm-up – at the Sachsenring, ultimately pulling out of the weekend before the main race.

His weekend stands as a jarring inglorious contrast to each of his other appearances at the German venue in the premier class, Marquez having earned the ‘King of the Ring’ moniker through winning eight successive German GPs before missing the 2022 edition through injury.

In terms of both the constructors’ standings and general bike performance, Japanese brands Honda and Yamaha are MotoGP’s weakest manufacturers right now – and parallels are easily drawn between Marquez and Yamaha rider Quartararo, who endured a humiliation of his own this weekend at the Sachsenring, scoring no points after having won the race in Marquez’s absence the year before.

“Of course it’s difficult for him,” said Quartararo when asked about Marquez’s situation in light of those very parallels.

“I can totally understand that, since 2020, with the [Jerez] injury, he has been on the podium, wins, of course, but… he is, for me, the best. And I have no words about him, he’s giving his 100 percent all the time.

“Who crashes five times just to try to be better, try to be on top? He’s mentally, for me, one of the strongest in here. And arrives one moment where, you know, you get injured. He broke his thumb this morning.

“I can understand, and he’s pushing himself to the maximum. It’s strange to say this – but, for me, congratulations for what he’s doing.”

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Quartararo himself has felt pushed to the limit by his own current bike, a Yamaha M1 that both he and team-mate Franco Morbidelli agree is a much less compliant and stable platform than its predecessors.

It does, however, appear to be less of a crash risk in terms of predictability. The Yamaha factory duo’s nine combined crashes this season are, while a bit on the high side for the M1, still a whole universe away from the 24 between Honda works regulars Marc Marquez and Joan Mir, and that’s without accounting for the races the pair have missed.

“The thing is, we checked a little bit with what we have, the Honda is turning a little bit better than us, but especially on braking we are a little bit better than them,” Quartararo continued.

“So this can avoid a little bit the crashes. But you are on the limit basically all the time.

“Since the beginning of the year, we are having some tough moments, but I can understand Marc 100%, and I think everyone here understands.”

The Race Says

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It is impossible to resist the comparisons between the situations of Marquez and Quartararo, the two riders who are perhaps most people’s picks as the most naturally-talented on the grid.

Both have already clearly achieved enough to where any season spent not in title contention feels wasted. And neither can accept a situation where a weekend target is top-10s instead of wins and podiums.

But it’s coming out in slightly different ways, and maybe surprisingly so given their respective ages (24-year-old Quartararo is six years younger than Marquez), if not their personalities.

Marquez’s public rage has been outward. In terms of his official rhetoric, Honda’s feelings have been largely spared. He’s made pointed remarks, yes, but they have been fairly mild compared to the reality of the situation.

Instead, it’s his riding that has told the story – both the crashing, the maximum-attack approach in races and the absolutely relentless following of other riders in qualifying sessions. It is not the media that really bears witness to his white hot rage, but the TV cameras and his rivals.

Quartararo hasn’t exactly been the image of coolness personified on the bike, either, but there does seem to be more of a willingness to live to fight another day – one perhaps reflected in the massively-shrunken gap between him and improved team-mate Morbidelli this weekend.

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But while Quartararo’s status as Yamaha’s clear number one performance-wise isn’t as clear as Marquez’s at Honda, and he is still early enough in his career to be able to afford spending time in a rebuilding project, he has been increasingly brutal towards Yamaha’s efforts in his media appearances.

He has not minced words in talking about what he perceives as a non-existent development curve of the last years, and has even shied away from what seemed like tailor-made opportunities to offer a vote of confidence to the project. This isn’t necessarily a criticism – it’s just how things are.

Ultimately though, for all those differences, a single commonality is more important. Both Marquez and Quartararo are bound to explore every single opportunity for 2024 – at the latest – as bona fide free agents.

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