Misano MotoGP Test Analysis Part 3 - Marc Marquez On His Return, And Honda's Big Gamble On Kalex

In our review of the Misano MotoGP test, we come at last to Honda. Undoubtedly the team with the most work to do, and the most going on. And the most attention, too, but that was more down to personnel than hardware. Marc Marquez was back on a MotoGP bike for the first time since the fourth operation on his right arm, with the aim of solving the multiple issues he has suffered since his crash at Jerez in 2020 once and for all.

Naturally, journalists and fans wanted to know if Marquez would be able to ride again, and if he could ride, whether he would still be winged, as he was after previous operations, or have full use of his right arm and get back to his old self. So far, it looks like the answer is that he can ride, and will be back to his pre-Jerez crash form.

The lap times looked promising. Marquez did 39 laps on Tuesday morning, with a best time of 1'32.395, eight tenths of a second slower than the fastest rider, Aleix Espargaro. He did runs of three and four flying laps, before pulling in again. For Marquez, the question was how he would feel on Wednesday morning. It was clear from the way he was touching his right shoulder that riding had been a painful experience.

"The arm, I mean I did only two weeks in the gym and two days on a bike and straight away came to MotoGP. So the timings are quite tight and there still is a long way to go, but it's true that I feel good," Marquez said on Tuesday. "I went out for the first run, I didn’t enjoy the first run because the bikes are too fast! But then from that point I started to enjoy it a bit more."

But riding, and following the plan – which had been to ride 40 laps in the morning – had been a major step. "The most important is that these 40 laps today, my body, my arm, accepted in a good in a good way. It’s true that I was doing a very short runs, because for long runs still we need to work quite a lot," Marquez said.

The pain Marquez felt was muscle pain, rather than bone pain, and that was the biggest step. "I was touching the shoulder, the arm, because the muscles were working in a different way for one year and a half. So all the muscles are working now in the proper way, but are not ready to hold all this torque, all this power of the bike," he explained. "The bone is 100% fixed. So the bone I feel is perfect, it's more the muscles. On the fracture area, I don't feel any pain. But it's more all the elbow and especially on the shoulder and on the back."

Rinse and repeat

Wednesday was an even more productive day. Marquez did 34 laps in the morning, and then another 27 in the afternoon. His best time, 1'31.642 set on Wednesday morning, was half a second off Fabio Quartararo's best time of that session, and under six tenths slower than Quartararo's best time of the test, set in the afternoon. Given that this was Marquez' first time on a MotoGP bike in three months, and he was measuring himself against riders in the middle of a season and coming off a weekend of racing, it doesn't look like Marquez has lost any speed.

His problem now is that he lacks strength in his right arm. "Happy, very happy because it was really important for me to understand the second day and definitely the second day the feeling was better, especially in the in the morning," Marquez said. "In the afternoon was true that I was struggling a bit more with the arm position because the muscles were empty. And then I start to do some strange positions and then some pain started to appear, but then we stopped. And yeah it was in the plan, what the doctors and the physio told me was exactly what happened."

The problem Marquez has is exactly what the doctors had explained to him. After the third surgery, the humerus had regrown twisted, rotated at an angle of 34°. The muscles in his arm had stretched and grown to accommodate that twist. Now that his humerus had been straightened again, those muscles were overstretched, and lacked the strength in the right places.

Hasta la vista?

Will Marquez be racing in Aragon? "The plan is just to try to understand these next two or three days. How the reaction of the arm is. Because sometimes after a big effort you have two options: The pain is there and stays there. Or it drops and then… the muscle grows a lot," Marquez explained. "That’s what we need to understand and go day by. I think around Sunday, Monday I can decide or I will understand if have some sense to try in Aragon or be patient."

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I spent a lot of time in isolation/quarantine in the early days of the pandemic thanks to working in international waters, getting in and out of the country was a PIA. Podcasts were my version of Tom Hanks “Wilson” basketball in “Castaway”.

I recall a Motogp tech series “powered” by Mission Winnow (and Marlboro money) and elaborating on testing and parts production during testing. No more is everything pre-prepared: basically every team has a 3D printer trackside. So parts like Jorge’s tank extension that completely flipped his form, or those down-force panels mentioned by David can be produced/tested/adjusted right there and then. While MM is out testing iteration X, iteration Y is being produced back in the box. 


They're not printing fairing lowers track side. Solid modeling in digital form would take time. Verifying the shape in a CFD package would take time. Printing them without modeling the shape in a CFD package would be a waste of time. Printing would take time. Carting the printer, raw materials and support infrasturcture to the track would take valuable space in race trucks. There's a chance that some 3D printing is happening in the box, but I'd be surprised.

Don't believe everything (anything!) Philip Morris tells you!

Not sure why you would think that. They have have a lot more leeway during testing, unlike the stress and time constraints of a race weekend. The average test goes for three days, that's plenty of time to experiment and create new parts. In fact I would go so far as to say that any team that doesn't have this capability trackside during a test are shooting themselves in the foot.