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MotoGP, Puig: "Honda will find a competitive bike again, but Kawauchi can't solve the problems on his own"

“Honda neither stops nor gives up. We’ve reorganized starting from the test team and the arrival of the former Suzuki technical chief was the response to the transfer of Yokoyama. Honda expects its riders to win, but to do that we have to give them a bike that works."

MotoGP: Puig: "Honda will find a competitive bike again, but Kawauchi can't solve the problems on his own"

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After a 2022 season that left it without victories, Honda intends to get back on track and to do so it has launched an internal restructuring, which goes beyond the pool of riders. As well as the addition of Joan Mir to the factory team and Alex Rins to LCR, respectively in place of Pol Espargaró and Alex Marquez, the Japanese manufacturer has in fact revised the racing team's workforce, also hiring former Suzuki technical chief Ken Kawauchi.

Operations at Honda are in full swing, because relying on Marc Marquez is no longer enough to get out of the crisis. Especially with a bike that in the first test in Valencia has already disappointed the expectations of the eight-time world champion. And it was precisely the Japanese company's winter preparation that Honda team manager Alberto Puig spoke about in an interview granted to Motorsport.com.

"We have reorganised, starting with the test team, to which Ramon Aurin arrives, who has a lot of experience with the RCV. Klaus Noles, who occupied this position until now, will become Takaaki Nakagami's technical manager, while Giacomo Guidotti returns to Repsol Honda. On Marc's side everything remains the same – explained the manager – Kokubu-san remains the technical director, while Takeo Yokoyama will be in charge of training the young engineers we have in Japan. Besides that, HRC has signed Ken Kawauchi as technical manager, taking advantage of Suzuki's withdrawal from the world championship. Ken is the answer to that. But we don't expect him to solve all the bike's problems on his own."

Making its MotoGP bike competitive again is the absolute priority of the Japanese giant, which wants to get back to fighting at the top of the category.

"What is clear to us is that we have to improve the bike. The Valencia test did not go as we expected. But, at the same time, I also tell you that Honda neither stops nor gives up. It will take more or less time, but we will find a competitive bike. Obviously the Sepang test is very important, but the result we get there, whatever it is, will not demoralise us. The priority is for Marc to have a bike that can win," commented the Spaniard.

There's no shortage of work to be done on the RC213-V, but the 2023 model won't be a revolution compared to last season's bike: "The change will not be so radical, but it is true that we must improve in several areas, not just one – admitted Puig - In any case, last year's model was not so different either. It was a little different in terms of geometry and distribution, but it was always a Honda RCV, with the same engine configuration."

Le attese sono elevate, perché la Casa giapponese non può permettersi di steccare un’altra stagione:“Honda si aspetta che i suoi piloti vincano le gare, ma perché avvenga dobbiamo dar loro una moto che funzioni. Se sei in un team ufficiale come HRC, quello che ci si aspetta è che tu vinca. Ma bisogna anche essere giusti e coerenti e trovare un pacchetto che sia equilibrato e funzionanteha sottolineato l’ex pilota, mettendo poi in chiaro come verrà gestito l’innesto dei due nuovi piloti provenienti dalla Suzuki.

Expectations are high, because the Japanese manufacturer cannot afford to wait another season: "What Honda expects from its riders is to win races, but to do that we have to give them a bike that works. If you are in an official team like HRC, what is expected is that you win. But you also have to be fair and consistent, and you have to find a package that is balanced and works" underlined the former rider, who clarified how the signing of the two new riders from Suzuki will be managed.

"Joan already trained with us in Valencia, but that bike didn't show what we expected. Mir got a more or less approximate impression of what the Honda is like, and he gave us his point of view by comparing it with the one he was riding until then – he explained Rins was signed by LCR, but obviously he is also an HRC rider. Alex had the chance to go to Aprilia and decided to come to Honda. From there, we are delighted, and we will try to bring out everything he has in him for the benefit of Honda, understanding that the factory team is Repsol Honda."

No new elements, then? "In racing, the priorities are set by the results and the standings. Honda, by philosophy, wants all its riders to have the same material. Another thing is that there is not enough time to produce the parts and, in that case, the new components will be given to the rider in front" clarified Puig.

If the potential of the bike and the performance of the newcomers are still to be verified, one certainty in Honda is represented by the recovery of Marquez, which finally seems to be proceeding at full speed.

"This has been one of the best winters Marc has had. For the first time in a long time he hasn't undergone surgery, and that's very important – commented the manager - He has rested, but he has also trained a lot. He's been riding fast. Marc is the same as always, with the same mentality of going out at full throttle from the first moment. Now what's missing is to check the potential of the bike."

 

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