Honda looks set to have only four machines on the MotoGP grid next season.

After an internal dispute, Marc VDS is expected to cut back to just a Moto2 team in 2019, leaving Honda with only its official Repsol team and one satellite squad (LCR).

"We are sorry that what happened with the Marc VDS team, but it has nothing to do with us," said Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig. "We were supporting the team for many years and things happen."

MotoGP bikes - what's the difference?

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Marc VDS had been linked with a possible switch to Suzuki even before the team turmoil and HRC director Tetsuhiro Kuwata said he's not concerned at having only four bikes next year:

"I think we don't have so much problem to lose two seats."

But the reduction in RCV numbers does mean fewer opportunities for HRC to place up-and-coming riders on MotoGP machinery, the most recent factory-contracted examples being Jack Miller (LCR and Marc VDS) and current rookie Takaaki Nakagami (LCR).

Indeed, the withdraw of Marc VDS looks to have directly resulted in sending one of MotoGP's rising stars, Franco Morbidelli, from Honda to Yamaha in 2019.

Most MotoGP manufacturers are in a similar situation to Honda - only Ducati has more than four bikes on the grid - but newcomer KTM  stands head-and-shoulders clear when it comes to young rider programmes. The Austrian factory has a talent ladder that starts with the Red Bull Rookies Cup and extends through Moto3 and Moto2 to MotoGP. KTM also has a factory team in each grand prix category. 

Aprilia also has a team presence in Moto2 through Gresini, through which Sam Lowes passed, but the other MotoGP manufacturers have no official link with the nearest class to MotoGP.

Honda meanwhile does take an active role in the Asia Talent Cup, a feeder series for grand prix which Puig played a major role in organising.

"We are doing a lot of investment in Asia, but in Europe it's true that other companies like KTM are very active in promotion and bringing up talent," Puig said.

However, the Spaniard also feels that, in MotoGP terms, the brightest talent will always be attracted to the most competitive bikes. In other words, build the best bike and the best riders will want to race for you.

"We will keep on working on our bikes and we will try to offer the best bikes we have and then riders must decide if they want to race with Honda or another company," he said.

But despite Marc Marquez winning four of the last five MotoGP titles, and major changes being made to the engine in recent seasons, the RC213V remains something of a beast to tame.

"For the engine we have made some improvements, you can clearly see about the top speed, but I think it's still not the number one in MotoGP," said Kuwata. "So we will continue working and try to be number the one engine for MotoGP.

"On the chassis side, we need to consider how to control the tyre better. Maybe we need to focus on this for the next years."

Jorge Lorenzo will join Marc Marquez at the Repsol Honda team in 2019, with Cal Crutchlow and Nakagami remaining at LCR.



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