Valentino Rossi’s verdict on Luca Marini swapping VR46 for Repsol Honda

Luca Marini will follow in his brother Valentino Rossi’s footsteps when he rides for Honda next season.
Valentino Rossi, Ducati MotoGP Valencia
Valentino Rossi, Ducati MotoGP Valencia

And intriguingly Marini replaces Marc Marquez, Rossi’s eternal foe.

Honda’s quest to find a new rider for the 2024 MotoGP season took them up and down the paddock, and even into Moto2, before a late decision to plump for Marini.

"Luca was a shock for us,” Rossi admitted to Sky.

“We didn't expect it. I'm very sorry, it was nice to see him get to the front and be a protagonist with my team and with our bikes. 

“But he had this opportunity of the free Honda seat, of the official Honda, with a two-year contract. 

“I'm a big fan of his and I will help him as much as possible. 

“It's a tough choice and then Honda is Honda, for us who are of a certain age…”

Honda were initially only offering one-year deals to replace Marquez but reversed this policy to pin Marini down.

Next year they stand to benefit from new concessions rules, and have also made major behind-the-scenes changes to their technical team in a bid to return to the top of MotoGP.

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"They and Yamaha have understood that they cannot afford to suffer so much, especially from Ducati,” Rossi said. 

“They have understood that they have to go up a gear. 

“Then next year the Japanese manufacturers will have help, and Marini is a very good test rider, we'll see.”

Rossi won three world championships with Honda before switching to Yamaha, where he enjoyed his heyday.

His VR46 team moved swiftly to sign Fabio di Giannantonio, who shone at the end of this season, to replace Marini alongside Marco Bezzecchi for 2024.

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