It will be Ken Kawauchi, their new technical manager, who will made the crucial difference. That’s the opinion of Livio Suppo - and he should know.

Suppo, who oversaw Casey Stoner’s MotoGP title win in 2007, the most recent for Ducati until Francesco Bagnaia last year, has also worked at Honda and, in 2022, Suzuki.

Can Joan Mir deliver big results for Repsol Honda in 2023? | MotoGP 2023

Suzuki’s exit from the sport has resulted in 2020 world champion Mir joining Repsol Honda, and Rins joining LCR Honda.

But it also means Kawauchi, arguably the brains behind Mir’s 2020 championship, has been poached and charged with revitalising a struggling team.

"Ken was Suzuki’s Technical Director," Suppo said. "Which means all the team’s technicians had to send their reports to him after every practice and every race. He would lead all the technical meetings, so Ken is very good at collecting information and moving it back to the factory.

"Especially for the Japanese manufacturers, it’s not easy getting the information from the track to the factory and from the factory to the track. This is a really important part of the job in my opinion. 

“It’s crucial that they have the same vision and that the people at the track trust the people back at the factory and vice versa. If they don't share the same ideas, then it’s a disaster for the development of the bike.

"Knowing that, Ken has two big pluses. First, he’s proved to be very good at his job. Second, he has a very good character. 

“I think that empathy in this kind of job is super important because it's impossible that the engineers at the track and those at the factory share the same vision all the time. Those at the track can miss something that those in the factory understand and vice versa. So, empathy and the ability to work with both groups is very important and I believe Ken has that.

"I don’t think Ken’s role will be to build a new bike.

“I imagine it will be the same as he had in Suzuki and I think he will do a very good job. He will help everybody at HRC to go in the same direction, which is very important. I say the same direction and not the right direction because there’s a big difference.

"If everyone is working in the same direction, you will understand if it is the correct way or not. If people are working in opposite directions, then nobody will know what’s right and what’s wrong. 

“The bike can be a piece of crap and nobody knows whose fault it is! 

“It’s important not to have an internal war between people who believe their ideas are better than someone else’s ideas.

"What can he bring in the short-term? This is a difficult question. In the short-term, it will be very important to see how the beginning of the season goes. I believe if the results immediately improve then the atmosphere, the motivation, the feeling of the riders will all improve and then it’s much easier. 

“If it’s not easy at the beginning, I’m not saying it will be impossible, but, of course, it will be more difficult.

"All of the riders in the paddock believe that the Honda isn’t that good, right? One year ago, at the pre-season tests and at the first race in Qatar, if you check the articles from that time they all said Honda is back. 

“Even Pol Espargaro was saying to the media that with this bike we can fight, we’re going in the right direction and so on. But what happened after?

"How does a bike go from finishing on the podium in Qatar, and Pol had the potential to win that race but he was pushing too much at the beginning so didn’t have any tyres at the end, and then, by mid-season, struggle to finish inside the top ten? It’s very strange. 

“Honestly speaking, it’s almost impossible to understand what happened last year.”

Honda failed to score a point in a MotoGP race for the first time in 40 years at the grand prix in Germany.

Marquez, despite missing six races due to his surgery then returning while still regaining fitness, somehow still finished as Honda’s highest-placed rider in the MotoGP standings, underlining their issues.