Next MotoGP appearance for Stefan Bradl: via Honda wildcard to Barcelona

The new MotoGP concessions make it possible: Next week Stefan Bradl will make his second race appearance in 2024 in Barcelona. The German will start at the Catalonia Grand Prix (May 24th – 26th) as a wildcard option for his employer Honda. A manufacturer in Concession Category D is permitted up to six such races per year. The HRC test rider was at the start for the first time at the Spanish GP in Jerez, and now the second one follows at only the sixth World Championship round of this year’s MotoGP season.

The Honda Racing Corporation has not yet officially confirmed Bradl’s participation in the Catalonia Grand Prix, but attentive ‘ServusTV’ viewers will have already noticed. Because on the Austrian broadcaster, presenter Eve Scheer revealed the German’s second wildcard appearance on the sidelines of the French GP. He was at Le Mans as a MotoGP expert for ‘ServusTV’ and spoke in the grid before the start of the main race of the premier class on Sunday afternoon about the current situation at the struggling manufacturer.

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Stefan Bradl: Honda must not lose hope

“You have a wildcard in Barcelona next. Is there still hope?” Scheer asked the Honda test driver, who then did not deny his participation in the Catalonia GP. Instead, Bradl replied: “Yes. We shouldn’t give up hope, we’ve been here too long. Honda is still the most successful manufacturer in the category, even if things aren’t looking so good right now.”

The German, who has been racing in the HRC cosmos since 2018, then explained what, in his opinion, was going wrong with the former MotoGP dominator: “The fact is, of course, that they haven’t developed well for almost ten years and haven’t adapted quickly enough. Others Manufacturers have worked better and set the direction. They have had the best MotoGP rider for over ten years [Marc Marquez, Anm.] and I don’t want to say rest on their laurels, but they weren’t razor-sharp in their development. It has to be said: The results still came up to 2019, but HRC is a big tanker that you can’t maneuver so easily. It didn’t happen overnight that we lost our way. So it will now be the case that it will take some time to get this big ship HRC back on the right track.”

Bradl believes that a quick turnaround is unrealistic; in fact, Honda will probably stay behind what is happening in MotoGP for some time. But how can the trend reversal actually succeed? “Everyone has to pull together, it takes a lot of know-how. You also have to be courageous,” says the Augsburg native and believes: “That’s what’s not always easy in the Japanese mentality, to explore the absolute limits. I see that I currently have the biggest need to catch up. We have to bring many pieces of the puzzle together, but it is always a company decision. The material is given from above and then it goes down deep and has to be worked through by managers, directors, test drivers and then the results have to be approved by the GP. Drivers come.”

In Jerez, Stefan Bradl fought with the other Honda riders at the back of the field, Photo: LAT Images
In Jerez, Stefan Bradl fought with the other Honda riders at the back of the field, Photo: LAT Images

Stefan Bradl: Next Honda prototype in Barcelona?

On Bradl’s first wildcard outing in Jerez, he tried out a completely overhauled, practically completely new Honda RC213V. However, this quickly turned out to be a failure and, according to HRC regular driver Joan Mir, the concept will no longer be pursued. However, at least the right direction for future developments had to be found. However, it is doubtful that the Japanese were able to produce another, completely renewed prototype by the time of the Catalonia GP. The four weeks since the Jerez test seem a bit short. What exactly Bradl will try out in Barcelona remains exciting to watch.

In any case, one thing is clear: performance will probably be secondary. But it probably won’t be possible to achieve much with the Honda RC213V anyway. No driver has ever done better than 12th place in a main race in 2024; together Mir, Johann Zarco and Takaaki Nakagami only have 27 points. Luca Marini is still waiting for something countable.

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