Soichiro Honda is probably rolling in his grave after the 2022 German GP. Honda has dominated Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s premier class in the last 40 years, winning 21 500cc/MotoGP championships since 1983. That supremacy wore thin following Marc Marquez’s season-ending humerus injury in 2020.
Since then, the Repsol Honda factory team and LCR (Lucio Cecchinello Racing) Team have struggled to find consistent results. Big Red took drastic measures to address the RC213V's rideability (or lack thereof) following the 2021 season. Despite the team completely reworking the race prototype, no Honda rider has stood on the podium in 2022.
After Marc Marquez voluntarily bowed out of the championship for career-saving, mid-season surgery, the manufacturer’s fortunes have only taken a turn for the worst. Alex Marquez salvaged a 10th-place finish at the Catalan Grand Prix, crossing the finish line as the race’s only point-scoring Honda rider.
He did considerably better than Repsol Honda rider Pol Espargaro, who finished 17th—more than 46 seconds off the winning pace. Adding insult to injury, Idemitsu Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami and Marc Marquez’s replacement Stefan Bradl didn't finish the Grand Prix.
The very next round further challenged Honda’s resolve, with Nakagami crashing out and Alex Marquez retiring due to a mechanical failure. Only Bradl finished the German GP, but the German rider battled the heat all the way to the checkered flag.
“It’s a shame that a company like Honda can’t build a fairing that can cool the rider and the bike. After following people for the first few corners, I couldn’t brake because my right hand, the lever, became so hot and I couldn’t control the bike,” Bradl complained.
“I just tried to finish the race, it was physically more than on the limit and I also have a burn on my right foot because it was so hot. It’s not acceptable to have this situation, we need to improve it.”
Bradl isn’t the only critical voice in the Repsol Honda paddock, though, with Espargaro retiring from the race due to the heat and a prior rib injury. With Bradl finishing in 16th place, Honda didn’t earn a single championship point at the Sachsenring circuit. That’s the first time that’s happened since the Honda-boycotted French Grand Prix on May 9, 1982, and the only occurrence during the MotoGP four-stroke era.
Honda’s miserable German Grand Prix brought its 14,651-day, 633-race point-scoring streak to an end. Despite the series of setbacks, Team Red isn’t giving up.
"We have the next race in Assen next week, so we’ll try to make it better,” Bradl concluded. “Think positive and we’ll get there.”