Lauded as a major improvement compared to its previous MotoGP machines, the 2022 RC213V appeared that way following pre-season testing and round one in Qatar. 

Pol Espargaro was a regular atop the timingsheets before leading 17 of 22 laps at the Lusail International Circuit. 

Although he failed to win the race - would have been a maiden MotoGP win should he have done so - signs were pointing to Honda being back in the fold following a difficult 2021 campaign. 

Marc Marquez, who also showed potential in testing, was finding it tougher to extract the level of performance he wanted as a lack of feel with the front-end was a sizable issue. 

Worryingly for Honda, Marquez’s problems with the front-end have persisted through to last weekend’s French Grand Prix (round seven) despite the eight-time world champion dragging his 2022 machine to four consecutive top six finishes. 

On the other hand, Espargaro has failed to challenge for a top five since the season-opener, with it instead appearing as though Honda and the former Moto2 champion have gone backwards as opposed to moving forward with the likes of Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia. 

6th/7th ‘not the result we were expecting’ - Puig

After lacking pace throughout race simulations during the Le Mans weekend, Marquez again out-performed his Honda to claim sixth, while an equally impressive Takaaki Nakagami came home in seventh - his second P7 result in as many rounds.

But it’s clearly not where the most successful manufacturer in MotoGP wants to be, as pointed out by Puig: "It clearly was not the result we were expecting or what we are aiming for. Of course, we aspire to achieve the maximum that is possible – this is always our target. 

"But the reality is that we are facing some troubles. We are still searching for how we can achieve our true potential. This weekend in Le Mans was again not an easy one.”

"All our riders were able to finish the race, but I think the only positive point is that we are not happy. 

"This is very positive because in terms of racing, when things are going wrong and something is not as you expected – it’s very easy to lose your motivation but this is not our mentality. 

"We are going to fight back, to improve and get back to achieving the results we aim for."

What can Honda expect from the remainder of the 2022 MotoGP season?

With Marquez nearly two wins behind championship leader Fabio Quartararo, a title challenge is extremely unlikely, especially as Marquez has failed to even fight for a race win so far this season.

However, the Spaniard remains Honda’s best bet at winning a Grand Prix, and with rounds such as Sachsenring coming up next month, it’s not out of the question that Marquez could replicate his end of season form from 2021.

But for Marquez or any other Honda rider to win a race in 2022, significant improvements are going to be needed regarding the RC213V as this season has proved that MotoGP has never been more competitive.