Repsol Honda Team have confirmed that Marc Marquez will not compete at the upcoming Michelin Grand Prix of Argentina due to a diplopia diagnosis, and the Japanese manufacturer will now have to organize a replacement rider. It’s not the first time HRC have been in this situation, and it is expected that Test Rider Stefan Bradl will be called upon, with the German proving an able deputy on more than one occasion throughout the years.
The son of a former 250cc rider, Helmut Bradl, Stefan debuted on the Grand Prix circuit in 2005, before securing a full-time ride from 2006 in the 125cc class. Having ridden KTM, Aprilia and Suter bikes, it was on a Kalex machine in 2011 where he had the highlight of his career. Competing in Moto2™, Bradl scored four wins and seven further podiums to claim his sole World Championship crown, ahead of Marc Marquez.
A move to the premier class with LCR Honda came the following season, where he scored eighth in the Championship. A maiden premier class podium came the following season at the USA GP at Laguna Seca which helped him to seventh in the overall standings. The following year he finished among the top 10 once again, but it was to prove his final season with Honda as a full-time rider. Stints at Yamaha and Aprilia followed, before retiring from MotoGP™ in 2016.
After a spell in World Superbikes, Bradl was back in MotoGP™ having signed a deal to become Honda’s Test Rider. Over the last six years, he has made regular appearances at different destinations on the calendar, while in 2020, he substituted for the injured Marquez for the rest of the season and the beginning of 2021. He put in an admirable shift in that time, scoring points on a regular basis, twice taking the chequered flag as the top Honda.
The German looks set to be called upon once again, with a date at Termas de Rio Hondo next on the calendar. Bradl has visited the circuit on three occasions, with his best result, a P5 in 2014, coming while riding on a Honda. There were two more point finishes, P15 and P7 in 2015 and 2016 respectively, so it is a track that Bradl has shown form and one that he admittedly likes.
Indeed, it looks the perfect circuit for Bradl’s reintroduction. Since it debuted on the calendar in 2014, Honda have taken four wins from six, with Marquez claiming three and Cal Crutchlow one, and four further podiums, two from Dani Pedrosa and two from Crutchlow. Having always seen one of their riders on the podium, the hopes of Honda lay on Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) or the LCR riders finding form to keep up that streak as Bradl gets reacquainted with Grand Prix racing on the RC213V.