You, me and Marc Marquez can all breath a collective sigh of relief after the six-time MotoGP champion walked away mostly unscathed from a jawdropping highside while practicing for this weekend’s Dutch TT at Assen.
Marquez, who claimed an emotional first victory since sitting out all of last season (and the start of this one) recovering from a broken humerus last weekend at the Sachsenring, lost control of his Honda while rounding Turn 11 early in the second free practice session of the day. The Spaniard was sent tumbling high and far while trailing Joan Mir’s Suzuki, and ultimately landed hard on that healing right arm before sliding into the gravel.
As gut-wrenching as it is to watch, Marquez thankfully reported only general soreness. Understandably shaken after the crash, he was able to get up and walk to a scooter without needing the stretcher brought for him. He explained how he’s feeling in a post-session interview:
“Yeah I mean first of all I feel lucky, because after this kind of highside crash, I feel lucky to escape from that crash in a good way. Of course it’s painful — the knee, the foot, the arm a little bit — but nothing wrong, I mean everything is fine.”
What’s more worrying than Marquez’s condition, then, is his assessment of the cause. Everyone knows the Honda RC213V is a tricky machine to rein in — Marquez just appears to be the only one capable of steering it to success. He was testing a new chassis on this occasion, but the bike’s traction control nevertheless should be mitigating these violent incidents. It plainly hasn’t been up to the task.
“It’s true that it was a strange crash, because I didn’t feel over the limit, I didn’t feel that I was pushing a lot. I was riding like in the morning [in FP1], trying to find my limits, trying to find my way. Normally in that corner the TC needs to stop you and the way that we are riding in MotoGP the electronics help us, but for some reason [it] was not there. And then just, I shift the gear and the rear started to slide and I had the highside. We must understand why because only Honda riders have these kinds of problems and so this means we must improve in that area.”
Marquez compared the incident to his crash at Jerez in 2020 that caused his season-long injury. If Honda isn’t able to sort out the bike’s fickle behavior at the limit, he’s not just going to have a hard time following up that win last weekend — he’s going to have a hard time avoiding another serious spill. After the glory in Germany and all the emotions tied to it, you cannot bear to imagine Marquez sidelined again. As for now, he and his engineers are desperately searching for answers.
“If you crash because you brake to late or because you lean too much, then you can understand. But if you are riding in a good way — I compared that lap, because it’s the first thing that a rider should do after a crash, compare and try to understand. And I was like, with less angle than the previous lap, and suddenly it just started [to] slide and the control didn’t stop me and then [I] just had the highside. With that kind of thing, I lose a lot of confidence.”
Marquez’s teammate Pol Espargaro also crashed during the same session just seconds after Marquez did, though it was a less dramatic incident, as the bike just seemed to slide away from him as he exited the tight and slow Turn 5. Notably, Espargaro was riding the same chassis as he did in the previous race, unlike his Honda stablemate. Maverick Viñales, Miguel Oliviera and Fabio Quartararo ended Friday’s second practice atop the timing sheet.