Counterclockwise: Can Marc Marquez Rule At Aragon As He Did At The Sachsenring?

Marc Marquez has had a rough 2021 so far. Since his return from the injury which kept him out of MotoGP for almost the entire 2020 season (the only exception being Jerez, where he sustained the fractured humerus in the first race, and overstressed the first plate inserted to fix the bone during practice for the second), he has struggled. His record: ten race starts, six crashes (one each at Mugello, Barcelona, Austria and Silverstone, and two at Le Mans), and twelfth in the championship with just 59 points. Of the six races where he has been classified, he has finished fifteenth, ninth, eighth, seventh twice.

Oh, and first. Marquez came to the Sachsenring as an underdog, despite winning at the circuit every year since 2010, in the 125cc, Moto2, and MotoGP classes. He arrived off the back of a crash at Barcelona, and then cemented his underdog position by 'only' qualifying on the second row, missing out on pole for the first time since 2010. But by the end of the first lap, the Repsol Honda rider had taken the lead, and would not relinquish it.

Why did Marquez win at the Sachsenring? Well, first of all, because the circuit is all left handers. It is Marquez' right arm and right shoulder which has been troubling him most, with a lack of strength and a lot of pain taking away some of his natural ability to balance a motorcycle on the knife-edge between triumph and disaster. Secondly, because there wasn't much braking to be done at the Sachsenring, the circuit a long flowing ribbon of tarmac folded up on itself and crammed into a tiny area. That, too, spared Marquez' shoulder.

And finally, because Marc Marquez is just exceptionally good at left-handed or counterclockwise circuits. His overall victory percentage is remarkable enough as it is: the Spaniard has won 57 of his 138 races, a rate of 41.3%. But when you split the tracks out by left- and right-handed circuits, the contrast is stark.

At the clockwise tracks, Marquez has 29 victories from 98 races, a winning percentage of 29.6%. But at the counterclockwise tracks he has raced at - Motorland Aragon, Circuit of the Americans in Austin, Indianapolis, Laguna Seca, Phillip Island, the Sachsenring, and Valencia – he has a strike rate of 28 wins from 40 races, or exactly 70%.

Just splitting it by racetrack direction is an oversimplification, however. There is much more to it than that, as becomes apparent when you break it down by circuit. At Indianapolis and Laguna Seca, he has a 100% record in MotoGP winning 3 out of 3 and 1 out of 1 respectively. Sachsenring is even more impressive, his 100% record comprising 8 wins from 8 visits in MotoGP, and the last 11 races he has contested there in all three Grand Prix classes.

Marquez was on course to keep his 100% record intact at Austin in 2019, when an engine braking problem caused him to lose the front and crash out of a very comfortable lead. That crash meant he has won only 6 out of 7 in Texas, or 86% of races.

Not all left-hand tracks are equal

But there are also tracks where Marquez has more of a problem, despite being counterclockwise. At Phillip Island, a circuit ideally suited to Marquez' style, he has only won 3 races in 7 appearances, for a win rate of 42.7%, or a little over his average at all circuits. And his record at Valencia is positively poor, at least by Marquez' own sky-high standards: 7 races, 2 wins, and average of 28.6%. That's even lower than his average at right-hand tracks.

There is every reason to put Marquez down as the favorite at the Motorland Aragon circuit, however. On results alone, his record there is second to none. Of his 7 appearances, he has converted 5 into race wins. And of the two races he didn't win, he crashed out of the lead twice: in 2014, by not coming in to swap bikes on time when it started to rain, and in 2015, on lap 2, in the year the bike wasn't working and Marquez was trying too hard to win races when the Honda RC213V wasn't up to it.

There is another reason to think Marquez will do well at the Motorland Aragon circuit. It is very much his home circuit, even though it is further away from his hometown of Cervera than Barcelona. Marquez feels at home at the Alcañiz track in no small part because of the layout. The track has 10 left-hand corners and 7 right handers. The left handers are long and fast, and need throttle control and a gentle touch to manage the spinning of the rear tire. They are tailor made for a rider who spends all their time on a dirt track bike, as Marc Marquez does.

Doubts weighs heavy on his shoulder

The main obstacle Marquez faces is the fact that recovering from the surgery on his arm is taking so long. Though the humerus itself is strong, the issue is that the various surgeries have exacerbated an older problem. In the surgery to fix the frequent shoulder dislocations he suffered in the 2019 season, the surgeons nicked a nerve. That is causing issues, especially in combination with a lack of strength in the right shoulder and arm. Judging by the photos Marquez has shared on social media, the musculature in his right shoulder is still not the same as his left shoulder, though the difference is now only minor, a huge improvement since the beginning of the year.

Marquez has been learning to ride around these limitations, however. Even in the races he has crashed out of this year, he has shown promise. At Barcelona, he made his way from thirteenth on the grid to sixth before crashing out. At Assen, he started from twentieth and crossed the line in seventh. At the Austria round, he was sitting in second and looking ominous when the rain came, and only a stupid mistake caused him to crash. At Silverstone, he qualified on the second row, despite a horrendous 275 km/h crash on Friday, the second fastest of his career.

What does this mean for Aragon? After qualifying at Silverstone, Marquez expressed some optimism. "We are riding better and better," the Repsol Honda rider said. "On my side I feel better and of course we’re improving the small things. Looks like we are closer to top guys. The main thing is be constant at all circuits. In the second part of (the season) it looks like we are able to do it. In Austria I was competitive. Here we are competitive. Then Aragon and Misano are arriving. We need to keep that level."

Marquez was more cautious in the press release issued by Repsol Honda ahead of this weekend's race. "Aragon is always a track that I enjoy racing at and we have had strong results there in the past. But we can’t rely on what we did in the past, in 2021 we arrive there in a different situation so have to approach the weekend in the correct way, see our level and see what our opponents are doing. It’s great to be back racing at MotorLand after missing the rounds in 2020 and hopefully we can put on a good show for the fans. In recent races we have been closer to the front so the aim is to continue this and see what’s possible on Sunday."

Fast Fabio has a hill to climb

What of Marquez' rivals? At the moment, Fabio Quartararo looks pretty much unbeatable, having won 5 of the 2021 season's 12 races so far. But Quartararo's record at the Spanish circuit is not strong. His best result came in 2019, when he finished fifth nearly 9 seconds behind Marquez. The two races in 2020 were positively disastrous: the Frenchman finished eighteenth in the first round at Aragon, and improved to eighth a week later at the Teruel round at the Motorland Aragon track. Perhaps with a bike he has the right feeling with, he can put up more of a fight. But he comes with something to prove.

Other Yamahas fared much better at Aragon in 2020. Maverick Viñales finished fourth in the first race there on the Monster Energy Yamaha M1, then seventh a week later, though 14 seconds behind the winner. That winner was Franco Morbidelli, on the 2019 spec Yamaha M1 in the Petronas team, adding to a respectable sixth place a week earlier. The Yamaha should be relatively competitive at the track.

The Suzukis were strong at Aragon last year, Alex Rins winning the Aragon 1 race with Joan Mir finishing third, then repeating a double podium a week later, with Rins taking second and Mir third at Aragon 2. The Suzukis have stood still for the first part of the season, but the rear ride-height device might put them back on a more level footing, especially out of Turn 15, the last corner of the bus stop chicane leading onto the back straight.

Happy Honda hunting ground

The other manufacturer which was strong at Aragon in 2020? In the first race at Aragon, Alex Marquez took his first dry podium, finishing second on the Repsol Honda, while LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami crossed the line in fifth. Cal Crutchlow took eighth place, making it three Hondas in the top eight.

A week later, Nakagami started from pole, though he crashed out on the opening lap as a result of nerves. He was followed by Alex Marquez, who crashed while battling with Johann Zarco for fourth spot, leaving Cal Crutchlow to finish first Honda in eleventh, just ahead of Stefan Bradl, filling in for Marc Marquez.

But the performance of the Hondas at Aragon demonstrated that the bike is competitive there. That bodes well for Marc Marquez to repeat his victory at the Sachsenring. Especially given the Repsol Honda rider's record at the Motorland Aragon circuit.

To finish first...

Victory is not a given, of course. Marquez has made a string of mistakes this season, with six crashes from ten races as a result. Add in a bunch of crashes during practice and he leads the 2021 crash statistics with 16 overall, one more than his teammate Pol Espargaro and two more than Tech3 KTM rider Iker Lecuona, despite having had two fewer rounds in which to rack up those crashes.

The lack of strength in his right shoulder has robbed him of the ability to save crashes on his elbow, as he used to do in previous years. If he can stay upright and avoid mistakes, however, Marquez has to be the favorite to win at Aragon.

After Aragon, there is one more track where Marquez arrives as favorite. When the MotoGP paddock heads to Austin – which they seem determined to do, despite the worsening issues with hospital capacity in Texas – Marquez arrives at another track where he has rarely been bested. Indeed, you might argue that it is a track where he has only been beaten by his own Honda RC213V in 2019.

Feet of clay

The last of the left-hand tracks is Valencia, but that is not a track where Marquez has been able to dominate. Too many tight turns and twisty sections for the Spaniard to use his supernatural ability to drift a bike through fast corners. There, he lines up as just another rival on the grid, with a lot of work to do.

That is true of the remaining right-hand circuits on the calendar too. Marquez has 3 wins and 2 other podium finishes at Misano, and his introduction to Portimão was less than successful. The chances of victory at the remaining races do not look promising.

Perhaps we will have to wait until 2022 to see the real Marc Marquez return. Or perhaps we will see a new version of Marquez, a rider who has learned to adapt to his weakened right shoulder and ride around the problems. Or perhaps Marquez will always be hampered by his right shoulder, and will never return to the kind of dominant form he displayed in 2019.

Until then, we will only get glimpses of the Repsol Honda rider's former glory at counterclockwise circuits like the Sachsenring, Aragon, and Austin. Sunday will show whether Marquez still rules at going fast and turning left.


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Source: 
year: 
2021
round_number: 
13

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Comments

For the life of me I'll never understand why riders like this don't go backwards, exclusively, around their practice dirt tracks. About 10,000 hours of practice should do to equalize things.

I think everyone has a preferred direction to turn. I was always much more comfortable on left hand turns than right but some of my friends were opposite. I don't think it has to do with left- or right-handedness. Seems like it's just a thing like throwing a ball - you can do it with the off hand and you can practice until it looks natural but it will never feel quite as natural as throwing with the dominant hand

Nicky Hayden gave that as one reason why he liked the Sachsenring and always rode well there. He called it a "scrappy track." Reminded him of his training grounds back in Owensboro? Nicky had dirt track roots like Marquez.

Ben Bostrom would often give the same reason (it turns left) for preferential tracks. Upon hearing this, Nick Harris said, "I don't see why it would make a difference."

I always prefered left turns over righties also. Right handed guy. Can't say why.

The first thing I do every race weekend is thank the motorcycle gawds that I don't have to listen to Nick Harris anymore. I have never in my life heard a more forced false emotional tone from a person. It always seemed to me that he didn't understand motorcycle racing. And apparently he knows nothing about riding a motorcycle either. Everyone I know has a preference for either right or left corners and which-handedness you are doesn't seem to enter into it, ime.

"Goofy Foot" vs regular on surfboard/snowboard/skateboard etc may be somewhat related. Not just about handedness. Regular is L foot fwd manipulating, R foot back making major push of work. When Mtn biking downhills I always prefer my pedals such that L foot is in front, R foot rear. There is a bit of a "front side" (preferred) and "back side" (weaker) turn.

Home track was clockwise, AND I always preferred right turns. None of us are symmetrical R and L brain, but the degree of assymetry is applicable and there is a continuum. 

But the inside hand having the throttle on a R turn, outside hand hanging on...I think I will always like that (I never said I was very good mind you). It would help me to spend lots of intense turning time both ways, emphasizing lefts. 

;)

I was always left foot forward on water ski and mtb. I only knew a couple of goofy foots - I wonder why. On the motorcycle I wonder if I liked lefts because it separates the pushing hand and the throttle hand. I thought I was fast. Then Wes Cooley went by in the infield at Pocono. I am not and never was fast. LOL

If you were into mountain bikes 25+ years ago you would have called your forward foot your chocolate foot, coined by Hans Rey who was probably the first high profile rider to do BMX style stunts on a mountain bike.

Anyway, i prefer lefts and that is also my chocolate foot although at the moment, on my road bike,  my gammy leg is causing me slight problems and i'm turning right better but still prefer lefts.

When my son was 6 in 1995 we started mtb. He had an 18 sp Mongoose 20" wheels and I had a Cannondale rigid CAAD-something. Been riding since. Now on full-sus Intense and Specialized 26" wheels. I remember Hans riding the Great Wall, did not remember chocolate foot. Low wave for that. Goofy came from water skiing for me so that may be why I carried it over. Fun memories.

edited to apologize for straying from topic

Add in a bunch of crashes during practice and he leads the 2021 crash statistics with 16 overall, one more than his teammate Pol Espargaro and two more than Tech3 KTM rider Iker Lecuona, despite having had two fewer rounds in which to rack up those crashes.

Are the crash statistics accessible somewhere for viewing?

If he has lost his ability to make saves and a tenth per lap due to injury he is no longer the threat he was. The racing is so close and so many strong up and coming riders. With KTM really building and Fabio possibly at the start of a run of WCs it's possible MM only gets 1 maybe 2 more championships. And only if he remains the strongest honda so no other riders take points of him

Interesting times and him only being at 95% does make the racing closer!

... can win, or fight for the win this weekend, otherwise it will continue to feel like the end of the "Marquez era" is in MotoGP. 

In regards to Austin - Texas really doesn't deserve a MotoGP round at the moment. It's a veritable shitshow between the voter-suppression, unconstitutional pro-life laws and ability for anyone (regardless of training, mental capacity etc.) to carry a firearm - no, Texas deserves absolutely nothing good right now.

I can't believe Motogp is coming to Texas. What an absolute disaster that taliban state is. Dorna: Do not support the fascists in Texas. Texas - come for the race, stay because you're dead.

I love going to Texas. Nobody's forcing you to go. And let's not start with politics. MotoGP (and sports in general) will lose half its tracks and its funding if they only deal with places that you like them to go. 

There are plenty of places that I will think twice about walking around at night. Texas is not one of them. I have been mugged in Hertfordshire, UK. Lost 20 quid and an ipod. Got into trouble in Scarborough, Toronto. Never had an issue in Texas. As an Immigrant who's lived in four countries in three continents, I'll pick Texas every single day of the week. It's safe, amazing food, relatively inexpensive and friendly people. 

I sit in awe of your wonderfulness. Won't protect you from delta. Won't protect you from guns, which anyone can carry now with no training or anything. I wouldn't go because it's filled with trumpers and they don't get to know me or have my money.

They are are actually better off without you. I am vaccinated, with no underlying conditions and as such more at risk of dying from a car crash everytime I go out for a drive. Trust me, they don't need your money. I think Texas is #2 in net migration. So people definitely don't think the same as you and feel safe to uproot their entire life and move there. 

The laws placing a bounty on women, encouraging vigilantiism and allowing unchecked gun carry just went into effect. People were going for the low taxes but they'll now be leaving because fascism. I couldn't in good conscience support such evil. Oh well, enjoy!

You can claim that once it has happened. I'm gonna say more people are gonna leave for there. So far, I am right. I will be right here when what you claim happens*.

* Never going to happen

Going by his comments in press conferences, his setup on the bike is different to what he used to in the past because his past setup had induced movement at the front end (which helped him slide it and extract performance). But it requires a lot of physicality which he doesn't have. He has setup the bike to be fast for a normal rider riding the Honda. You will have your one off races, but you cannot be consistently fast on the Honda like that. And you will crash your brains out trying. Dani, Cal, Lorenzo, Alex Marquez, Nakagami, and Pol Esparagao can attest to that. He needs the physicality back to go back to his old setup. OR he needs to change teams to continue winning. 

Some of you 'goofballs' are staggering! This is a Moto GP site....NOT a policical site! I frequent this site because I LOVE what David brings to MGP....not to listen to rants about Texas. And no, I don't live there...I live in wacko Kalifornia!

Because people are so sure about their ideas, they have to start ranting about a place they don't live in on a racing forum. 

You weren't here for the political comments on Qatar or all the discussion about Prince Bone Saw. It's not politics, it's human rights. I'm very secure in defending human rights. This is not the only time someone has mentioned this subject and won't be the last. If you don't like the topic of a thread feel free to skip it. I'll try to let you know if you miss anything important 

So far, I am right. They are towards to top of immigration for years. When you are right (which is never), you can talk about how horrible of a place it is. Rebranding it as "human rights" doesn't make it not politics. 

It's been about 4 days since the draconian laws went into effect so one is right or wrong. I'm guessing you don't keep up with things going on in the world. That's ok, it's not required. I do because I'm interested and I'm nice enough not to want to see horrible people/places rewarded for evil. It's a discussion that's been had many times here. Probably will be many more times. Sorry you don't enjoy it.

This has been going on for a while and everybody with half a brain cell knew all the "draconian" (lol) laws were going into effect with the politics of Texas. And yet. You are still wrong. People want to move there in Droves. Like I said, I'll be right here when you are inevitably wrong in your prediction as well. 

Hey peeps. Some people like off-bike discussion, some don't, I'm up for anything.

But.

This isn't a discussion. this is a school yard twitter insult fest.

Ladies....Gents...

There hasn't been a single insult thrown at anyone. If you think saying "you are wrong" is an insult, boy are you in for a rude awakening. 

I'm glad you said that. I have been trying to be agreeable while disagreeing. I think you've done so as well. Respect. We can discuss touchy subjects if we keep a proper perspective and don't think we're enemies. We don't agree on something - good. That means we both have thoughts and opinions. Enjoy the race. But first Aragon. Cheers!

Ahhh ok. Friends.

I only read Texans are horrible, Taliban, fascists. But seeing as you both now agree that I'm in the wrong then great.

Me and Brian literally cancelled an inaugural "Back Marker Travel" COTA trip because of the Covid Delta variant hotbed down there, so I have some understanding about things feeling personally frustrating/disappointing and unfortunately linking to public policy failure. Super happy the Saudi regime sponsorship is likely a sham, looking fwd to news. 

Also, happy to be in the turn I am in as much as possible rather than elsewhere, plenty to appreciate. This Round, we may have interesting faces challenging the front. If one is Fabio, even that is interesting since he hates the track. I think we have an Alien again. Or, we are about to have 3-4 emerging there for 2022. Both of which are interesting!

Gas

If you are vaccinated, young and healthy, then being afraid to travel at this point is a bit like being afraid to drive down the highway because you might get into an accident. What you gonna do if COVID is a lifelong traveller with us? Stay inside forever? I can't travel because I can't get off work. Otherwise that is a race I look forward to every year. Also a great excuse to eat southern Barbecue. 

Yummy.

Valid question, Poseidon. The seasonal flu that circulates today started out as the Asian Flu in the late 50s. After an antegenic shift, it resurfaced as the Hong Kong Flu in the late 60s. Influenza and Covid are both novel coronaviruses in structure. Flu pandemics are not new. Might be the balance of nature, which humans try their darndest to control. 

Has anyone here experienced humor welling up when faced with death? Like when entering a corner way to fast and slamming on the brakes and downshifting isn't working and you think you are going to die and for some odd reason you want to laugh? Experiencing human folly can cause laughter too. But then, laughter can come from reading a comment and the humor is simply in the comment and nothing more.

Humor after the event is good. But experiencing the duality of fear and humor in the moment is very odd. Something about the comical circumstances or the helplessness just strikes a funny bone. If choosing to laugh at the situation (and the fear) plays a part, it may be subtle. Since motomatters is a site with members who actively follow a sport where people risk their lives, and it seems that the members engage in similar activities, I wondered if others have had this experience and were willing to discuss.    

@peterday

The vaccines - paradoxically -  are putting a lot of selection pressure on the virus to change. The vaccines are very narrowly targetted from what I understand. There will be some sort of variant around with us for a while. Either you live your life or start building a bunker. Some of us prefer the former. If you are scared now, you will stay home for a good part of your life.  

Yes done that. I originally come from a place where motorcycles are a means of transportation rather than leisure. Once on the way back from college, I went too fast into a corner and narrowly missed a bus. Was a mixture of nervousness, terror and laughter. I actually lost a few friends that way. 

Will Marquez podium or even win at one of his favorite tracks? Will Quartararo continue his relentless march towards the championship trophy? Can the others get in his way? Will Aprilia reap the benefits of their new engine? Will Viñales stun the paddock?

Hoping for an exciting weekend.

....UNBELIEVABLE! I keep my political views/opinions OFF this site, because I respect the site. FYI......I've lived in Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Kalifornia, Australia....and spent some time in the Middle East....Iraq and Qatar. Shall I keep going? And no, I wasn't in the military. 

You must've been absent for Qatar and the whole Prince Bone Saw things among others. I can help fill you in on what you missed. We talked about human rights and we talked about not liking who Rossi hooked up with. This is not the first time anything like this has been discussed. I can take notes for you if you're going to be absent so you don't miss anything. Or you can just not read comments you don't like. Seems you have plenty of choices. Fussing that something that's been going on is still going on isn't gonna help you a bit.

....in all this is simple: slamming a state, because what they do doesn't jive with your moral/political views, isn't for a racing site. The negative posts, about MGP going to Texas, due to their abortion and gun laws is the height of hypocrisy: your opinions are right and all others, if they don't agree, are wrong. Interesting. And I read all the Qatar thread and posts.....      

 

s comical how folks think I could slam the various political issues in my state, and how it has affected racing/sports, but it doesn't really serve any real purpose. I read all the Qatar stuff and my opinion   

Marquez's relatively underwhelming record at Valencia may be due to the fact that he's typically wrapped up the championship by then and he doesn't need to risk going for the win.  Don't read ANYTHING into his Valencia record.

Totally agree. Especially MM

He may win but I don't think Marc will rule at Aragon. Not the previous, imperious, play with the opponents for most of the race then dissappear in the distance type of win.

OK Texas isn't perfect. Neither is Australia or the U.K. Racing starts tomorow, let's move on shall we.

The King of testing will be on a different motorcycle, that will be fun to see! Top gun or pop-gun this weekend???

Quartararo, opposite Marc, says this is his (not bike's) worst track. This may open things up a bit Sunday? 

I think Marc is going to stomp into the front. He is coming. I know, been saying that for a while. I think he is going to get more fit, not stay as he has been. I like that it is taking a longer, even though I have been wrong (expected him to approx full capacity by Summer Break). It is making things interesting. It will be even more so when he is healthy, he looks to have been joined at the front. Martin may be in tow and draft too, end of yr and into 2022 contention. He deserves all the good stuff Ducati can hand him. 

Tito Rabat was just released by Barni Ducati, they are going to stick in a replacement and it may be Pirro for now. I didn't expect much from him there, but would have guessed a bit better than he did. Validates an interest in turning over riders from the back pack of MotoGP rather than an over stay. Some freshness is good. I celebrate the new kids much more than suffer the goodbyes. Fish, houseguests, overripe fruit, wilted vegetables, even nostalgia...timely shedding.

Marc P2 or better Sunday!

^ Ape, me too re excitement and Mav in Black. Going to moderate expectations for this Round, then up them for Misano. P10 would be quite good for brand new everything and a bike that is emerging from the rear, if he is better I will be impressed. Then, Misano? 6th. And he could maybe...?

:)

... The date came and went did it not? No funding announcements I have heard. Has the VR46 team been swindled as claimed in Italian media? I feel the need for some quality DE investigative journalism.

Me too Bregs! David? Have something in the pipeline? The longer we go w no updates, the more I think it is (wonderfully) true! Encouraged also that the Plan B is not only Italian, but also includes a Factory bike plus A Spec like now. David, is WithU now unavail to VR46 having just announced funding a different team? 

Will try to be patient

Fabio's secret to success? I see my mistakes last yr, my mentality is more solid. Enjoying racing, things are coming easily. Yamaha made an improvement and I feel the limit on the bike. The Blue bike is not so strong, but Yamaha trusts me. Aragon and COTA will be tough on this bike, but I am going race by race and it is fun!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yeopFc7HoQo

How did the Aprilia become competitive? 2019 thru now w Albesiano. Revolution from the prev bike, evolution now. (Engine V angle change, weight dist change, top end revision...). Gorgeous bike! Maybe the Italian V4 Suzuki? And now, we have The Maverick at one million Euros!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KtY8vwfa1LU