HRC director Tetsuhiro Kuwata sees new signing Jorge Lorenzo as a ‘true champion’ for taking on the challenge by joining Repsol Honda but doesn’t expect working processes within the team to alter at the reigning MotoGP world champions.

With the arrival of Lorenzo alongside Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda for 2019, the team possesses the most successful line-up on the grid with 12 world titles between the pair.

But with the two having contrasting riding styles, plus the potential combative situation of two riders fighting for the riders’ championship, a tricky marriage to balance had been predicted for the Repsol Honda teams management.

While pouring praise on both riders, HRC boss Kuwata says he expects no need for Honda to change its development approach in order to meet both riders’ demands.

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“Honestly talking we don’t need to change our approach,” Kuwata told the media at Repsol Honda’s team launch in Madrid. “Last year we had two different kind of riders and we tried to improve the overall point for each area.

“Between then and now we have a new rider but we need to provide both of them with a good new machine as soon as possible to get good results. Of course we now have a new rider so maybe this is a new challenge and something we need to know but the approach will not change.

“I have no doubt that we can manage both riders and the team. Both riders are very professional riders and they know the expectations. This is a challenge and Honda likes a challenge, so it is maybe tough, but this makes us stronger than in the past.”

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Kuwata also underlined the need for the strongest-possible rider line-up at Repsol Honda in order to defend its world titles, as it targets a hat-trick of triple world championships having taken clean sweeps in 2017 and 2018.

“Repsol Honda has two riders that have proven to have a very high limit and standard and are riders that need the best from us,” he said. “This team is always looking for excellence. It is our duty to give them that to the best of our ability.

“We believe there is no better combination than Repsol and Honda for this task.

“Marc needs no presenting as actions speak louder than words and for Jorge we want to welcome him to the team and we can be assured that the fact he accepted this challenge proves he is a true champion with high hopes. Let’s try our best with good spirits and high motivations in order to continue to be the reference of the MotoGP world.”

Honda will be without Lorenzo for the Sepang pre-season tests as he recovers from his recent scaphoid surgery, while Marquez doesn’t expect to be fully fit for the first pre-season test of 2019 having undergone a shoulder operation in early December.

HRC will call upon test rider Stefan Bradl for Sepang, who is also in testing action this week at Jerez, alongside Marquez plus LCR Honda duo Cal Cructhlow and Takaaki Nakagami.

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