Seven years after signing Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda has hired another MotoGP rookie for 2020 in the form of his younger brother Alex.

The siblings will now form a unique team-mate partnership, with a combined ten world titles, as Alex steps up as the reigning Moto2 champion to replace the newly retired Jorge Lorenzo.

Although most top riders are tied to their current teams until the end of next season, Alex was still chosen ahead of LCR stand-in and six-time MotoGP podium finisher Johann Zarco or the more complicated option of promoting either Cal Crutchlow or Takaaki Nakagami.

Marc had made clear that he wanted Alex to get the ride, while insisting he would not apply pressure on Honda.

But with the reigning six-time MotoGP champion in negotiations with HRC over a contract renewal, many suspected the factory simply couldn't afford to upset the #93, who almost single-handedly gave them the riders', teams' and constructors' titles this season.

Team manager Alberto Puig brushed off such gossip when explaining the reasoning behind Alex's deal at Valencia on Monday evening, insisting that even if Alex wasn't a 'Marquez' he would still be a deserving choice.

"The process has been ongoing since we heard all the news and the idea of Jorge. We were thinking, thinking and finally in the last hours we decided," Puig said.

Promoting an LCR rider was discounted since it would just have made the situation more complicated: "If you want to make it simple, you replace the guy that is gone in the team that is missing the rider."

Alex then got the nod based on his results this season, and age (23).

"Basically, we have to understand that the decision has been taken out of Alex's results. This is the priority. I mean, he is the world champion of Moto2 and this is something that is the starting point of the consideration to sign him.

"It's also true that in Honda we are trying to find riders for the future, young generation riders, and out of the circumstances that Jorge decided to stop, it was one-year that was almost 'lost'.

"So we decided to give him this opportunity, based on the fact that he's the new Moto2 world champion, that he is young and we believe it can be a good opportunity for him.

"We believe if you don’t consider his name, I think that any rider that wins a world title deserves to have this type of opportunity. The only [unusual] factor here is the surname."

Puig insisted that Marc had not campaigned for his brother to get the seat, but admitted he'd be happy with the decision.

"I can tell you that Marc did not interfere at all," Puig declared. "Of course, if you ask, are you happy if your brother races in this team? You would say yes. It's normal. But I think the conversation was not with Marc, the conversation was with Alex and with his manager, Emilio [Alzamora]."

What isn't normal, Puig agreed, is that a factory MotoGP team will feature two brothers.

"It's clear that this is completely unusual circumstances. I think we’ve never seen this in racing ever. So it's quite a peculiar situation," said the former grand prix rider.

"But it is what it is. I mean, it's clear that if Alex would not have achieved the Moto2 world title we would never have offered him this opportunity. But he did it and they are brothers. So next year they will be brothers and rivals."

In terms of how the brothers will be managed within the team, Puig added: "Frankly speaking from my point of view with my character I don't care at all [that they are brothers].

"They are two riders and I think every rider must be treated in a particular way. Every person is different and we are all different. Some guys you can push them, some guys you have to be more gentle and I will treat Alex the way he has to be treated.

"I know how you can treat Marc and every person is different. I think the team manager or the team has to have to ability to understand what that guy needs."

Since Alex has only a one-year contract, could he feel additional pressure to perform?

"I think the pressure is not the story. The story is the difficultness of the category. This is the real problem," Puig said. "I mean. the MotoGP class is really complicated and the pressure is something that I think you have to handle when you are racing to win a championship.

"At this stage for Alex it's not about pressure, it's about learning the class, learning and understanding the tyres, and improving his level for these types of bikes. The pressure I would put as a secondary factor."

Alex Marquez will now be on track at this week's Valencia test, although he is set to ride in a plain black livery and use the vacant LCR pit box alongside Crutchlow. Puig confirmed Alex will ride a 2019 machine, rather than the 2018-spec bike of Nakagami/Zarco.

Putting a rookie on one of the most prestigious bikes in the paddock is a risk Honda hasn’t taken since Marc stepped up at the end of 2012.

"Racing is a risk!" shrugged Puig, who also played down the idea that Marc might become distracted by his brother.

"Marc will not get distracted by anything but the win."

Zarco's plans remain unclear but his last remaining MotoGP option looks to be with Avintia Ducati. Otherwise, he could replace Alex at the Marc VDS Moto2 team.

The Marquez duo will be the second set of brothers currently competing in MotoGP, with Alex and Pol Espargaro riding for Aprilia and KTM respectively.

 

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