On paper, the official Honda team is the strongest formation out there. Marquez and Mir have 10 world titles: 8 for Marc and 2 for Joan. With such a team, it’s normal to focus on something else, and Team Manager Alberto Puig can’t hide their objectives.
“On a team like Repsol Honda, we have to have two riders who can win races,” he said, after the presentation of the new season in Madrid. “However, the only one who was able to do so in recent years was Marc and, during the past two years, with an arm and a half. We always want our riders to battle each other, and we always make sure both of them can do that.”
Mir is the new arrival.
“I think Mir is an experienced rider, a two-time world champion, and he’ll be able to play his part on the team,” the manager confirmed. “In the sport, you have to think a lot about yourself, so you have to focus on yourself and compete with the other riders, and one of them will be Marc. Every time we took on a rider, it was always for a reason. When we took on Lorenzo, we did it because he had an impressive resume. Then he retired, and we thought that Pol Espargarò could bring us a lot of experience, but sometimes things go right and sometimes they go wrong. Now we believe Joan has the same mentality and, when you’ve won titles, it’s for a reason. We felt the time was right, and we’re fully confident.”
But they still have to fix the bike, because it’s far from perfect.
“We’ve had various problems, including highsides,” Puig admitted. “During the winter, we worked a lot on this particular issue. The engineers in Japan and Europe made an important effort, but the bike is a set of parts that make it work.”
To achieve this, HRC has also opened up to external collaborations.
“We’ve changed the dynamics of our work a bit and are open to new opportunities with new partners who are experts in racing, such as Akrapovic or Kalex,” he continued. “Honda always has its own work system and its DNA, but we’re open to listening and trying new concepts that help us improve the bike. We’re also adjusting to the new work system with Ken Kawauchi’s arrival.”
The goal is to make the best bike, pushing Ducati out of the top.
“The difference with Ducati is evident,” Alberto admitted. “They have great potential on the flying lap, and we have to improve. They’ve progressed, and this leads us to say, ‘we’ll do it too’. But, to this day, the reality is that they’re one step ahead.”
Puig also commented on the overall difficulties of the championship, including less spectacularity.
“I think the races have changed a bit because of the bikes,” is his opinion. “We’ve gone through very bad years, with Covid, and without Marc Marquez. He was a very entertaining rider and, from one day to the next, he disappeared. We don’t know how the new format will work, but I think there will be conditions for motorcycling to recuperate what it may have lost.”