Ex-Honda boss: “Plan was to team Stoner and Marquez; two opposing characters”

Casey Stoner might have prevented some of Marc Marquez’s heroics and accomplishments if he had remained as his teammate, Livio Suppo claimed.
Marc Marquez, Spanish MotoGP
Marc Marquez, Spanish MotoGP

The ex-Ducati, Honda and Suzuki boss has revealed that Honda planned to pair Stoner with Marquez in 2013, but the Australian retired.

Some of Marquez’s brilliant feats in the subsequent years might not have materialised if Stoner was still on the grid, Suppo believes.

Remote video URL

“The plan for 2013 was to have a team with Casey and Marc,” Suppo told Men On Wheels

“Marc was very strong that year but he could also count on the injuries of his main title opponents, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. 

“That said, he was still a [one of] those riders born every hundred years. “Surely it would have been harder to do what he did in 2014, with 10 wins in a row, because Casey was Casey. What we can say for sure is that fans would have enjoyed a good show.”

Stoner won both of his MotoGP championships under Suppo’s leadership, at Ducati in 2007 then at Honda in 2011. After 2012, aged just 27, he retired.

The following season, Marquez arrived to immediately win the championship and take the premier class by storm.

Stoner with Honda RC212V, Sepang MotoGP tests, 1-3 February 2011. Photo courtesy of
Stoner with Honda RC212V, Sepang MotoGP tests, 1-3 February 2011. Photo…

Suppo compared Stoner to Marquez: “At the level of talent they are very similar, both two monsters, while at the character level they are diametrically opposed. 

“Marc takes life in a smiling way and tends to do everything for fun, unlike Casey who has a more closed character and suffers with all the activities surrounding the races such as travel, interviews and public relations. 

“Those were things that weighed heavily on him. This is a big advantage for Marc, and it's the same as Valentino Rossi. 

“Vale's approach allowed him to have a career as long as the one he did. As proof just look at the length of Casey's career.”

Marquez is vying for his seventh MotoGP championship this season, which would tie him with Rossi’s total. How might Stoner have compared to those tallies if he opted to stay?

Stoner with Honda RC212V, Sepang MotoGP tests, 1-3 February 2011. Photo courtesy of
Stoner with Honda RC212V, Sepang MotoGP tests, 1-3 February 2011. Photo…

“Considering that he retired when he was 27, in my opinion he could have remained safely competitive for another four or five years,” Suppo said. 

“It is not known how many world championships he would have won, because in the meantime Marc arrived. 

“Between the two, Marc would have won. Because I think Casey would have suffered from his more light-hearted approach. To make you understand, if what happened to Jorge at Jerez in 2013 had happened to Casey, when Marc attacked him in a very similar way to what Valentino used to do with Sete Gibernau in 2005, he would have been very angry. 

“In 2008 for example, after Laguna Seca, if he had been quiet we would have won that world championship too. Instead he got angry because Valentino could do everything and nobody told him anything, or at least that's what he thought. This influenced him for the rest of the season.”

Stoner was left in the gravel, and later frustrated, after he was pipped to victory by Rossi who completed a controversial overtake at the 2008 US MotoGP. Rossi went on to edge Stoner to the title.

Suppo was replaced by Alberto Puig as Honda team boss in 2018 but still retains several links to today’s version of the line-up, via his time at Suzuki.

Joan Mir has joined Repsol Honda as Marquez’s teammate, Alex Rins is at LCR Honda, and technical manager Ken Kawauchi has also joined from Suzuki.

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

“They have made important changes but in my opinion they should have done them before,” Suppo said. 

“In my opinion there would be another one to do but I will not say it! 

“Ken Kawauchi arrived as technical manager on the track, I got to work with him in Suzuki and I can say that he is an empathetic person with a fantastic character and this can give a lot to the team. It takes that too. 

“You can also be a very good engineer but if he does not have the empathic ability to convey enthusiasm and confidence to other engineers and drivers then you are not a good track engineer. 

“In fact, it is very important to know how to relate to both mechanics and drivers. 

“Two of the four Honda riders, Joan and Alex, he already knows them from the experience at Suzuki, and this will also help him to enter the new role in an easier way.”

Read More