Marini’s VR46 farewell: I was only emotional on my wedding day!

After spending six years at his brother Valentino Rossi's VR46 team, in Moto2 and then MotoGP, Luca Marini makes a fresh start as a Repsol Honda rider in 2024.
Luca Marini, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 25 November
Luca Marini, MotoGP, Valencia MotoGP, 25 November

Valentino Rossi’s younger brother made his Moto2 debut with Forward Racing in 2016, then became a race winner in his first year at VR46 in 2018.

Improving each season, Marini moved to MotoGP on the back of title runner-up to Enea Bastianini in the 2020 Moto2 championship.

Initially joining Bastianini in a split Avintia/VR46 garage, Rossi’s team took other both grid places from 2022.

As in Moto2, Marini has progressed constantly up the championship table in each of his premier-class seasons, rising from 19th to 12th and then 8th this year, when he celebrated his first podiums and pole positions.

“It was a really fantastic period for me with the [VR46] team,” Marini said. “We shared many great, great moments. The best moments of my career.

“Now we'll start a new era of my life, of my career where I hope to and I want to make much better results and fight for the top. So let's see in the future what we can do.

“But thanks to the [VR46] team for all the great memories and moments that we shared in these years. As I've always said it’s a family, where I’ve worked with a great group with great people, with a lot of laughter and smiles every time.”

Marini has a reputation for keeping his emotions ice cool on the racetrack, something that didn’t change even in his final race for VR46.

“No, I was emotional only on my wedding day! When I'm here, I'm in race mode and it is a different emotion," he said.

"Sure, with all my guys, during the [final] weekend there were more hugs. A little bit more emotions.

"But when I'm on track, it's something completely different.”

Marini’s decision to abandon a Ducati Desmosedici, which won races with six different riders and took podiums with all eight of its riders, for a Honda that was bottom of the constructors’ standings has raised some eyebrows.

But the chance to be in a factory team was too great to ignore.

“[I] have the best bike but going in a factory team, developing your own bike, talking with all the engineers and following your direction is a completely different thing,” Marini explained.

“I know my package now is fantastic, the team is working very well and the Ducati is a fantastic bike, performing well every time and in every situation… But also as a rider, I have dreams and goals to achieve and to ride and work for a factory team is incredible.”

Marini went on to finish tenth fastest, as the top Honda, on his RC213V debut at the Valencia test.

Speaking before Marini had tried the Honda, future team-mate Joan Mir said: “I think he's a smooth rider, and normally this type of very smooth rider is quite sensitive, also. Not braking like an animal and don’t care about the bike.”

Marini’s decision effectively means he is doing the opposite of Marquez, who is leaving the factory Honda team to ride a year-old Desmosedici, at Gresini.

“In the end, I moved to competitive bike. He moved to a project that needs work,” Marquez said. “But I'm happy for him.”

Read More