These reasons did little to mitigate the stark reality. Honda is in the throes of an extended nightmare that began when Marc crashed in the opening round of 2020, breaking his right humerus, and triggering a saga of repeated problems and surgeries that continues to this day. He is currently recuperating from a fourth operation in which the upper arm bone was sawn in two, twisted through 30 degrees and screwed together again with a fourth titanium plate. He is unlikely to return this year, or even in the early rounds of next year. Or possibly ever.
This has left Honda terribly exposed. Their V4 RC213V was launched in 2012 and immediately won races. The following year Marquez joined MotoGP and swept the field to become the youngest-ever champion as a class rookie. It was the start of a dominant spell during which the bike was refined and developed around his rather peculiar, very aggressive riding style. By 2020 the bike was so specialised that not only did others have trouble riding it, they also crashed a lot. Marc’s Honda was fast, but potentially poisonous. That year, however, further changes made it hard even for Marc’s cat-like reflexes. That ruinous crash at Jerez followed an earlier run-off out of the lead into the gravel trap, then a heroic charge back to a challenging third from 16th.