Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig has firmly denied that MotoGP's delayed start has been especially useful for the Japanese factory.

Honda struggled with handling difficulties during most of pre-season testing and many, including HRC's rivals, felt the factory would benefit more than most from the unexpected extra time to fine-tune its 2020 machine.

That assumption was based on the fact that engine and fairing design are only homologated at the 'first race', and so hadn't gone ahead as planned at the cancelled Qatar round.

However, upon announcing a remote homologation process would instead be carried out - with manufacturers sending in sample engines and digital fairing drawings by March 25 - MotoGP revealed that HRC had been the only manufacturer to already supply all its engine parts for the original Qatar deadline.

"We were the first to show what we had [in Qatar], it is the opposite of what many have said," Puig told Spain's EFE Agency. "The rest have not… So how do we benefit?

"Honda had no intention of modifying anything because, first of all, an engine is not made in five minutes. Anybody that thinks 'they have delayed the championship [so now Honda can] make another engine' doesn't understand much.

"The only thing that can be said, with total certainty, is that if someone acted unfairly in this championship it would not be Honda, because IRTA already had what is required from us."

That's the situation for the engine, but the last-minute progress made by reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez at the end of the Qatar test included a switch back to last year's fairing.

"I can't give you all the details, but it was a set of things and already in Qatar, on the last day of testing, the situation improved a lot," Puig said.

Meanwhile, Puig did agree that the delay will aid Marquez's recovery from shoulder surgery.

But he also made clear that, if the race had gone ahead as planned on March 8, Marquez would have gritted his teeth and been at the front regardless.

"The truth is that he was probably not even 60% recovered [during testing] and yes it is true that this forced stoppage has probably helped in that regard," Puig said.

"But nobody wanted this monstrosity - the coronavirus pandemic - and we would have preferred to start the championship with the conditions at that time.

"We are talking about Marc Márquez… On Sunday night he would have been in the front group.

"With a lot of suffering, yes; with many difficulties, yes; with great pain, yes; but Marc Marquez would have been on Sunday night fighting for the victory in Qatar. "

Like Marquez, Miguel Oliveira (Tech3 KTM) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) are also recovering from major shoulder surgery.

 

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