Honda’s bleak assessment: “We must improve many, many things”

Alberto Puig, the Repsol Honda boss, has offered a blunt reaction to his team’s readiness for the new MotoGP season, saying: “Clearly, we are not there yet”.
Marc Marquez, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February
Marc Marquez, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February

Marc Marquez, the team’s star rider, left Sepang confident in his own improving physical performance but claiming that the current incarnation of his 2023 bike must be dramatically improved before it can help him fight for the championship.

Honda endured a horrible 2022 - Marquez missed six races due to injury yet was still their highest-placed rider in the MotoGP standings - while they embarrassingly failed to score a single point in a premier class race for the first time in 40 years in Germany.

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Team manager Puig reflected on the three-day preseason test in Sepang: “It was an evolution of what we tried in Valencia. For us, the testing will finish in Portimao.

“Clearly, we are not there yet. Where we want to be.

“To keep on trying solutions that we have, we have many ideas, but we have to bring them and prove that they are working. This is what we are doing now.

“One of our goals is to improve traction but it’s not the only one. We have to improve many, many things.

“We think that we are in the right direction. We had four bikes - the same, with different settings. But we don’t have a completely new concept.

“We do not think that we have achieved our goal. No. From engine and from chassis, we have possibilities. But we need more time, this is clear.”

Marquez began on Friday with four bikes before finalising his favourite one on Sunday, although he made it clear that even Honda’s best efforts “need another step”.

He was 10th-fastest on Sunday with new teammate, the 2020 MotoGP champion Joan Mir, 12th.

Joan Mir, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February
Joan Mir, Sepang MotoGP test, 12 February

Perhaps if Honda can add further performance to their machinery at the upcoming Portimao test then this past weekend will be reviewed as a positive experience because Marquez rode injury-free.

“Marc is good, his condition is much better compared to last year,” Puig said.

“He can do laps and, the next morning, he is not destroyed, sore, painful.

“We see progress with Joan. He is improving and understanding the bike.

“If we bring the bike that we think we can bring? We cannot forget Joan is a two-time world champion. This is the reason that he is here.”

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