The title? Race wins? Or avoiding injury? What is a good 2023 for Marc Marquez?

One of the key storylines to follow throughout the early stages of the 2023 MotoGP season is whether Marc Marquez and Honda have what it takes to be title contenders.

After three injury-hit seasons, where Honda also failed to provide a bike capable of challenging for consistent MotoGP race wins, Marquez enters the 2023 campaign looking to become a contender once again.

However, pre-season testing didn’t paint a pretty picture for the Japanese manufacturer, as many of their competitors including Ducati in particular looked a step ahead.

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Take 2019, Marquez’s last title-winning season away, and the eight-time world champion arguably won the rest of his five premier class titles with a bike that was not the best on the grid.

But through incredible skill, an ultra aggressive riding style and a unique ability to get the most from himself and his machine more consistently than any other rider, Marquez found a way. 

Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso could all make arguments that they had bikes that were stronger than Marquez’s Honda over the last decade, or at least a machine that was easier to ride, however, Marquez lost out on just one title from 2013 to 2019. 

But for Marquez, the expectation of him being able to out-perform his current machinery in an era of MotoGP racing that has never been closer, is just not realistic anymore.

Injury has derailed the Spaniard’s dominance in recent seasons, while more and more elite talent has joined the premier class, making it even harder to win on a consistent basis.

Marc Marquez , Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Marc Marquez , Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

A big positive going into the season however, is that Marquez will start 2023 fully healthy for the first time since 2020.

This will without doubt make a difference in terms of how competitive he can be, but also Honda, who need to show that they can bounce back from their struggles between 2020 and 2022.

So what would a good season for Marquez look like?

Well, the Honda man has won three races over the last three seasons - all of which came in 2021 - so being able to match that tally is likely to be the starting point for what could be seen as a good season.

But given his winning mentality and various circuits being known as ‘Marquez tracks’, such as COTA, Sachsenring and Aragon, the expectation from him will be to do more than that. 

Ducati look to be major favourites for the title, and having eight riders will only increase those chances, but Marquez can’t be ruled out especially if he makes a strong start to the campaign.

But if we’re going off the belief that Ducati or Aprilia, both of whom were strongest in testing, fight it out for the title, plus the potential inclusion of Fabio Quartararo who like Marquez would normally be included based on talent alone, then race wins has to be the most realistic goal for Marquez.

Three or four race wins would probably be a good season based on where Honda ranks right now in terms of pure speed.

While it’s not likely to be the sign of a good season as he’s finished ahead of his teammates in every season aside from 2020 when he completed just one round, Marquez will want to make sure he gets the better of Joan Mir after Honda brought in the 2020 world champion to line-up alongside him.  

If Marquez is able to complete a full season for the first time since 2019, beat Mir in the championship and win some races, whilst also seeing Honda make improvements towards becoming a serious contender, then returning to title contention could be more likely in 2024 which is scheduled to be his final year with the Japanese brand.

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