After two podiums as a Repsol Honda rider during his rookie MotoGP campaign, Alex Marquez couldn't crack the top three for LCR in 2021.

But he came close.

The young Spaniard peaked with a fourth place in the penutimate Portimao round, just 0.051s from Jack Miller and the final place on the rostrum.

However, that was one of only two appearances inside the top seven this season, while half-a-dozen DNFs left Marquez just 16th in the world championship standings.

Marquez certainly wasn't the only Honda rider to struggle, team-mate Takaaki Nakagami managed just six points more during the course of the season, with Alex's Repsol replacement Pol Espargaro twelfth overall.

A ranking that did contain plenty of Hondas towards the top was the 2021 falls list, headed by Tech3 KTM's Iker Lecuona (26), but with Marc Marquez - Honda's only race winner since 2019 - suffering a higher tally per round with 22 accidents from 14 events.

Marc Marquez was followed by Pol Espargaro on 20 falls and Alex Marquez with 19. Nakagami was ninth on the list with 12 accidents.

A lack of rear grip was widely cited for Honda's difficulties, with HRC responding by delivering an all-new prototype for 2022.

Initial tests have been positive, especially regarding rear grip, which also makes the machine feel 'safer' on corner entry - although the magnitude of the changes means the new bike still needs to be refined and re-balanced.

But even without the injured Marc Marquez on board for last month's Jerez test, the new bike already appeared to be fast.

“I think 2022 is exciting," said Alex Marquez, speaking during a visit to the Estrella Galicia Museum in A Coruña. "Honda has changed the bike to a totally different concept.

"I already tried it at Jerez and as I said it's exciting because from the beginning it was a motorcycle that we didn't know, but lap times were fast and we felt quite comfortable riding it.

"We win in some areas and lost in some others, but we still have to further understand and we have a lot of work ahead. Lap times are good and that is positive.

"The expectation is to try to become more regular and stay in the top eight in 2022."

The next tests will be held at Sepang and Mandilika in February, before Marquez's third MotoGP season begins in Qatar on March 6.