Puig tight-lipped on Mir, Rins rumours, expects Marc Marquez to return in 2022

Keen to not give anything away, Alberto Puig has chosen not to discuss the rumours linking 2020 MotoGP champion Joan Mir and Suzuki team-mate Alex Rins to Honda in 2023.
Marc Marquez, Honda MotoGP
Marc Marquez, Honda MotoGP

In a season where Honda has so far failed to score points in a MotoGP race for the first time in 40 years (Sachsenring), and where they are once again without talisman Marc Marquez, Alberto Puig has given a frank assessment of where the Japanese manufacturer is at.

If a race weekend could go very badly wrong, then Honda will probably admit that Sachsenring is as close to that as possible. 

Pol Espargaro, Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez all failed to finish the race due to different reasons, while test rider Stefan Bradl suffered with burning from the bike on his right foot, leading him to churn out Moto2 laps times and finish last. 

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However, Honda have still had good moments in what’s been a tough season, such as fighting for the win in Qatar, Marquez producing a stunning comeback ride in Austin and challenging for the podium in Jerez. But when measured against their usual standards, it’s clearly not been enough. 

“It's not a good season for us and there’s nothing to go more deep in the situation,” said Repsol Honda Team Manager, Alberto Puig. “We are clearly not competitive, and we have to improve, and this is what we are trying to do. 

“You can say many different ways of giving a long explanation, but the truth is that we must improve and we must change our procedures, and this is what we are trying to do. I mean, in the history of Honda, we’ve had more good moments than bad moments, results-wise, but now we are in a bad one. So, we have to fix it.

“The history of Honda is that they never give up. We can take this time, or this time, or this time [moves hands further apart], but we know we will get there. 

“But, we have to try to change a little bit our way of thinking, and the key point is to not give up in the chase, in the will to find the better solutions."

Honda set to be rejuvenated by additions of Mir, Rins

Joan Mir, Alex Marquez, Dutch MotoGP, 24 June
Joan Mir, Alex Marquez, Dutch MotoGP, 24 June

While there's been more bad than good in Honda’s 2022 season thus far, there could be some very good news coming the Japanese marque’s way.

Mir is looking increasingly likely to join M. Marquez at Repsol Honda, which would without doubt form one of the strongest line-ups on the grid, while Suzuki team-mate Rins is set to join LCR in place of A. Marquez. 

Despite both moves being thought of as very likely, Puig decided to remain tight-lipped during the Team Manager’s press conference in Assen.

Puig added: "Well, when Suzuki’s story appeared, we were all shocked and obviously I think the Suzuki riders went to talk to all the guys that are sitting right here with me – it’s normal. There are options, there are different options, and we are considering them.

"We said since the beginning that it will take more time this year for Honda to decide, and this is where we are now. We have possibilities, he [Mir] has big possibilities also, and regarding the satellite team, of course, the satellite team is run by Lucio [Cecchinello], it’s his team, and we will support him with whatever decision he decides. 

“Regarding Moto2 riders, this is something that’s still not on the table, because still the championship is ongoing, and in case Ogura can make a good result, it’s something that should be discussed probably in Japan."

Of course, getting Marquez back to his dominant best is going to be crucial for Honda as it strives for future success.

The eight-time world champion is currently recovering from his latest right arm surgery, and although it's unclear when he will return to action, Puig admitted that having the Spaniard back on the bike at some stage this year is the main aim. 

Marc Marquez, Italian MotoGP, 28 May
Marc Marquez, Italian MotoGP, 28 May

Puig stated: "Yes, if possible, it would be good that he could try the bike by, let’s say, after summer, end of the year. 

“This would be the best, especially for our engineers, so that they understand which direction. But, the priority is the total recovery of his arm, so this is something that is, like, no question, and this is how we will proceed."

Quartararo making the difference in MotoGP 2022? 

While challengers have come in the form of Aleix Espargaro, who remains his biggest title threat, Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini, reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo is again proving to be near untouchable.

The last two races have been utterly dominant from Quartararo as he increased his lead from eight points to 34.

Although Quartararo is no better off than last year - has the identical amount of points after 10 races as in 2021 - the maturity and consistency shown has been significant. 

Fabio Quartararo, Dutch MotoGP, 24 June
Fabio Quartararo, Dutch MotoGP, 24 June

Johann Zarco was first in praising Quartararo’s maturity during the pre-event press conference on Thursday, before Monster Energy Yamaha Team Manager, Massimo Meregalli, followed suit: "As you know, Fabio has great consistency, and probably in this moment is the only one that could really exploit the strongest points of our bike as much as possible, and he has such a strong feeling with the bike now. 

"He’s more mature than last year, because he’s improving the lap time wherever we are going, and he’s very determined. Also, when I said mature, because in difficult situations like Argentina, in COTA, in Qatar, in the end he was disappointed, but not in the wrong way. 

"Since we returned to Europe, he started to be really focused and fast, and what he did in the last three races, for me, was amazing. 

"He achieved these results in very fast circuits, where at the beginning we could not expect it, and also at the Sachsenring, which is not really a good circuit for Yamaha."

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