MotoGP, The Honda Curse: legendary riders, careers shattered

In sport it is difficult to accept the subject of luck and bad luck. When thinking of motorcycle racing, it would be nice to imagine a rider winning or losing because of their talent alone, because they can get the maximum potential out of their motorcycle, or even because of their innate ability to openly challenge any opponent. But we all know that in every sport there is also another element that makes history, with a hidden hand but deeply influencing the stroke drawn by the pen. We speak of luck, bad luck, fate, fate or whatever we want to define it.

The history of the sport is full of episodes that have to do with bad luck or luck and When we think of Marc Marquez’s last two years, we can only believe that happiness is blindfolded more than ever. What happened to Marc risks jeopardizing the future of his MotoGP career and getting Honda into great trouble, a manufacturer that has experienced various trauma related to the end of the careers of exceptional riders, a kind of curse, throughout its sports history , who during its existence has brought some of the biggest stars of motorcycle racing to the bikes of HRC on the one hand, and put an end to their glamorous career on the other.

Freddie Spencer: a flash of pure genius, faded prematurely

Freddie Spencer is the first example that comes to mind. Almost Freddie came into the world championship to light the scene with his immense talent and to build the legend of the Yankee drivers after Kenny Roberts. His perfect driving style with a clean and effective style brought him three world titles with Honda and a golden period between 1983 and 1985. Especially in this third season, Freddie painted his own personal Mona Lisa and captured the title at 250 and 500 that same year.

But in 1986 its light went out immediately, not like a flashlight that gradually loses its power, but more like a lightbulb that is blown by an electric shock. Injury to his right shoulder, lack of sensitivity in his hand and entering a tunnel that led him to the end of a career that was to last much longer. He was on pole, he was in the lead and headed for the garage, never to come back as strong as before. There have been a lot of rumors, but the end of Fast Freddie’s competitiveness will forever remain one of the sport’s greatest mysteries.

Mick Doohan: From nightmare to dream, only to relapse

Fast forward and Honda welcomes an Australian named Mick Doohan to the team following the successes of Lawson and Gardner. He made his debut in 1989 and showed talent, winning his first race in 1990 and becoming a top driver. He fought for the title in 1991 and seemed ready to win it in 1992, a year that began triumphantly. He won five out of seven races and finished second in the other two. A dominance that was suddenly interrupted by his terrible crash in Assen.

His career seemed over, the Honda curse seemed to have struck again. But a guardian angel came to save Mick, and that angel was called Costa. Claudio Costa. He gave him another chance and Doohan managed to dominate from 1994 to 1998 and became a legend. But the curse was around the corner and In 1999 it struck relentlessly. Jerez was the place, but this time not even the angel Costa could work miracles. On with the credits, the last word on a career that he has given Honda and Mick so much, but which perhaps could have given both of them even more.

Dani Pedrosa: strong in spirit, fragile in body

From 500 to MotoGP and after Valentino Rossi, the category was looking for an heir that seemed to be coming in 2006. The name was that of Dani Pedrosa, his talent didn’t need an introduction, while the problem was having to set the lens a little too low to frame him in the photo. Dani was a phenomenon in the saddle, but he had a really small body and a MotoGP bike in 2006 was able to pull out over 250hp on the rear wheel, with electronics far from the effectiveness of those available today. However, Pedrosa did not give up and climbed back on the saddle after every fall, only his small body suffered more than the others from the violent blows of a crash at over 200 km / h.

He broke everything, collarbones, ankles, wrists, but in the saddle it stayed like granite and came close to the title several times. But almost every season he had to miss Grands Prix due to injury and never managed to get that crown. There wasn’t a single episode that ruined Dani’s career but the mixture of a wheel that was not always at the top and the same desire to outdo each other that often crashed him and strained his body that just couldn’t hold up. And so one of the most crystal clear talents in the history of the World Championship has never won a MotoGP title.

Casey Stoner: Indianapolis and Suzuka the points of no return

At the same time as Pedrosa, the Australian phenomenon par excellence hit Honda. Casey Stoner led Ducati to triumph in 2007 and with his immense talent he managed to hide the shortcomings of a project that were then revealed at the precise moment Casey was no longer in the saddle. Stoner won instantly, and in fact, he dominated with Honda.

2011 was almost a walk in the park, but his motivation for MotoGP was gone and in 2012 in France he announced his retirement. But bad luck was just around the corner, and especially in Indianapolis, where Casey injured his ankle and was forced to skip three races and give up the idea due to the aftermath of that problem Retiring as a world champion seemed within reach.

However, Stoner stayed close to the Honda environment, he completed some tests with the MotoGP motorcycle and then convinced himself to return to racing in 2015, but in Suzuka, at the 8 hours. His race was interrupted by a seemingly inexplicable fall while he was simply hypnotizing. The explanation was a throttle valve malfunction, directly at Suzuka. Old spirits awaken Stoner broke his shoulder blade and shin and gave up competition on a professional level for good.

Jorge Lorenzo: The missed dream team and the fear of paralysis

The dominant alien Marc Marquez has arrived in the Honda universe. But that wasn’t enough for Honda, and in 2019 they put together a dream tea like never before. Jorge Lorenzo, the man who was let down by Ducati with “impeccable” timing, seemed to make a simply infallible team with Marc. The winter didn’t start badly, Jorge was quick in Jerez, but injured himself in training in January and that’s when the problems started. He did not take part in the tests in Malaysia, he arrived in Qatar and found a bike tailored to Marquez’s needs in the garage. He tried anyway and crashed.

He fell many times, but kept getting on the bike. He seemed to have found the key to being competitive in Barcelona, ​​but he tried ten-pin bowling and knocked out three at a time. Vinales, Rossi, Dovizioso. Hardly a bastard one of them. But the speed was there, the results would come. Instead, Assen came and Lorenzo knew again what fear meant. He fell and broke a vertebra, risking paralysis, but luckily the tragedy was averted. However, Jorge lost enthusiasm, was afraid and that showed. He decided to quit despite having a multimillion-dollar deal in his pocket for 2020, thus lowering the credits of his career. Indeed, a champion’s career.

Marc Marquez: Two terrible years, the desire not to give up

Not a bad thing for Honda though, who decided to promote Alex along with his brother Marc. One will be the backbone, the other the rookie who has to grow and learn. To cement things well, HRC Marc had a contract signed until the end of 2023. Armored for four years as if to say there will be only crumbs for the others. But Jerez decided to change history in 2020 and Marc’s long ordeal begins. He broke his humerus, but had an operation and was back on his bike a week later.

He couldn’t ride and after a few days the unthinkable happened. The plate inserted in his arm bent, Marc had to go under the knife again. The recovery went poorly, the Spaniard felt he was not making any progress and decided to have his third operation at the end of 2020, but this time he hired Dr. Out of the question for me. Things seemed to be going well and Marc was back on his bike in Portimao in 2021. He was riding almost with only one arm, also because, in addition to the problem with his humerus, there was another problem in his right shoulder that was never completely resolved and Marc caused a lot of difficulties on the bike.

But he won anyway, dominated the Sachsenring, put Austin back in his trophy case and picked up Bagnaia’s present in Misano with a smile. Marc was back and although the steamroller was only seen in 2019, he could be a serious rival for the title again in 2022. Then the freezing shower came like a forgotten Pepsi in the freezer. Marc fell during training, suffered a head injury and double vision occurred again, which had afflicted him in 2011 and forced him to undergo an operation. The right eye nerve has been injured, it takes time to judge what to do.

But in the meantime, it’s impressive to look back and read this list of names that have been kind of unlucky. Two are missing worst of all, but you’ll understand for yourself why we didn’t want to write about it.