When you hear the names Joan Mir, Alex Rins and Takaaki Nakagami, you think to yourself, what a very talented trio of riders.

Particularly in the case of Mir and Rins who have proven results in MotoGP, as Mir is a former world champion (2020) and Rins a race winner as recently as COTA which was only his third race weekend aboard a Honda.

But what Le Mans once again demonstrated, is that when Honda are in deep, deep trouble, then there’s only one rider who can dig them out of such holes. 

That is Marquez, as the eight-time world champion was second in qualifying - the next best Honda rider was Nakagami in 14th - while Marquez then went on to claim a top five in the sprint.

During the main Grand Prix, Marquez was inside the top three for nearly the entire race before crashing out when battling Jorge Martin. 

Yes he crashed out, but Marquez is doing something very few other riders are doing, especially those aboard Ducati, Aprilia or KTM machinery, which is riding every corner and every lap at the absolute limit.

Down on top speed compared to its rivals, struggling for mid-corner speed, and something that was particularly visible at Le Mans was a lack of acceleration on corner exit compared to Ducati - those are some of the issues currently facing Honda at present. 

But Marquez, as is so often the case, masked over those issues for as long as he could in order to challenge for a podium in both races. 

Even more impressive was the fact that this was Marquez’s return to action after missing three rounds. 

If Honda are eventually going to regain their status as the manufacturer to beat in MotoGP, then retaining Marquez will be crucial as wet or dry, good or bad, the Spaniard is the only rider consistently able to drag the current RC213V to levels it shouldn’t be reaching. 

In previous years, had you said to other manufacturers that signing Marquez was a possibility, then every single one of them would have been interested.

And not because of injury or Marquez declining, but the likes of Ducati and even KTM could be unlikely to entertain such thoughts going forward given their current riders, but also the pool of talent that’s available with the likes of Tony Arbolino and Pedro Acosta, two riders who seem destined for moves to MotoGP in 2024. 

So Honda could find themselves in a position where retaining Marquez is easier than years previous, but making sure they do, so long as Marquez wants to continue, will be key to becoming winners again.