Apart from the ferocious battle between Jorge Martin and Pecco Bagnaia, the other big news of the 2023 MotoGP season was the departure of Marc Marquez from the Repsol Honda team. After years of waiting for an improvement in the Honda that would give the Honda riders a chance of being competitive with the dominant Ducatis, Marc decided it was time to go. Let’s have a look at the stats for the Honda crew for 2023.
There were, of course, 4 riders, Marquez and Mir in the Repsol squad and Takagami and Rins in the LCR team. Let’s start with the LCR outfit. Nakagami finished 18th in the championship, scoring 56 points. His team mate, Rins, finished in 19th place and scored 54 points but he did have a victory, the only Honda rider to do so. Mir finished in 22nd position and scored 26 points and Marquez finished in 14th position and scored 96 points. In other words, all 4 Honda riders were consistently propping up the back end of the grid. And all 4 riders missed rounds due to injury, Rins, especially suffering from this.
As a comparison, Bagnaia finished in 1st place, scored 467 points and had 7 victories. It certainly doesn’t read well for the Honda outfits.
So it was hardly surprising when Marquez announced that he was leaving at the end of 2023 to take a ride with the Gresini Ducati team beside his brother.
Before we look at what lies ahead, lets look quickly at Marc’s time with Honda. In his 11 years at Repsol he competed in 192 races and won 6 world championships. His win record is 59 out of 185 (32%). He scored 104 podiums in those 185 races (56%), 65 pole positions (35%) and 61 fastest laps (32.97%). He retired from only 29 races in those 11 years. He also missed quite a few races during his protracted recovery from his 2020 accident and these have dented his stats somewhat. Overall, he was the dominant rider of the decade from 2013 to 2023.
Now we all know about the injuries, the operations, the eye problems and the downturn in Honda’s fortunes during the latter stages of his residency but what is clear is that Honda’s overall performance during that decade would be nothing short of woeful if it weren’t for the presence of the #93 in the squad. And, despite what the haters say, the Honda is a dog, not because Marquez couldn’t develop the bike but because Honda consistently ignored his advice AND the advice of the other Honda riders as well.
So, what about 2024? Well, Ducati management has already tried to blunt his chances by declaring that he will not have the 2024-spec bike for 2024. He will have to make do with the 2023 bike. This is actually an advantage as the past few years experience has shown that riders on the well-proven, sorted last iteration of the bike are not only competitive but also race winners and potential championship contenders. The fact that he doesn’t have the latest bike should not be of a concern. He is plainly a superior rider to all the other riders on the grid regardless of what model he is riding and the other Ducati riders should be looking very concerned as the first test for 2024 looms close. Fact is that there is still only one “alien” in the pack and it is Marquez. Martin is the only one who is close and he has a little bit more maturing to do yet before he graduates. His failure to go for the jugular late in the season when he had the chance is evidence of this.
Now some of you will be a bit tired of me banging on about Marquez but, the fact is he IS the story for 2024 and, unless he blots his copybook in a big way at Ducati, he will remain so.
I predict that we will be seeing a great deal more of THIS face than the one at the top of the page.
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