The latest Repsol Honda colours - unveiled this morning in Madrid - are a continuation of the familiar orange, white and red that has been taken to the premier-class title 15 times since 1995.

That includes six world championships for Marquez between 2013 and 2019. But the Spaniard’s subsequent arm and eye injuries left the team without even a race win for two of the past three seasons.

The good news is that last June’s bone realignment surgery in the USA was a success and the 30-year-old is in his best physical shape since the fateful Jerez 2020 accident.

But major question marks remain over the technical performance of the RC213V.

Last year’s Honda took just two podiums, prompting Takeo Yokoyama to be replaced by ex-Suzuki technical manager Ken Kawauchi.

Marquez started the recent Sepang test with four different bikes: a 2022, two evolutions of the 2023 prototype from last November’s Valencia test and an ‘experimental’ machine.

The Spaniard went on to pick one of the ‘Valencia’ bikes by the end of the test, which he finished tenth fastest (but only 15th in terms of average lap time), but warned:

“It's not the bike that I need to win the championship. I need another step. But it's important to have one base clear and forget the others.”

Just one more test, at Portimao on March 11-12, now remains before the start of the new racing season at the same Portuguese circuit on March 26.

While Marquez and Honda haven’t won a MotoGP race since Misano 2021, the last time a Repsol Honda rider other than Marquez took victory was Dani Pedrosa back in 2017.

Jorge Lorenzo, Alex Marquez and Pol Espargaro have all passed through the team since then, with 2020 world champion Mir arriving on the back of Suzuki’s shock MotoGP exit.

Mir, 25, followed up his historic GSX-RR title with third the following season, but didn’t grace the podium during an injury-interrupted 2022 campaign and is yet to repeat his lone 2020 race victory.

Mir progressed from 17th to 16th to 12th on the timesheets during the three days at Sepang, setting a best lap time within 0.2s of his new team-mate.

500cc/MotoGP world champions in Repsol Honda colours:

  • Marc Marquez x 6 (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Mick Doohan x 4 (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998)
  • Valentino Rossi x 2 (2002, 2003)
  • Alex Criville (1999) / Nicky Hayden (2006) / Casey Stoner (2011) x 1