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Suppo: "If Marquez goes to Ducati, MotoGP will become even more a one-make championship"

"If I were the organizer of the championship, I would be worried. The other riders will have to see his arrival as a stimulus. Dall'Igna to Honda? I would have done something less sensational, the Japanese only need European engineers if they trust them"

MotoGP: Suppo: "If Marquez goes to Ducati, MotoGP will become even more a one-make championship"

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Livio Suppo has won with Ducati, with Honda and was on track to do so with Suzuki too, if they hadn't retired. He is the right man to talk to about Marquez's decision to leave Tokyo to settle in Borgo Panigale, with all the pros and cons that this decision brings with it. The Turin manager analyses them point by point.

Livio, were you one of those who thought that Marquez would go or stay?

“I believed, and sincerely also hoped, that Marc would stay in Honda. I figured that if the concessions to the Japanese manufacturers were such that he felt confident they could catch up faster, then they would have helped Honda to keep him. Maybe my reasoning was too Macchiavellian (laughs)”.

Didn't you expect Marquez to leave?

“From his point of view, I'm not surprised by this choice of his which can be seen in two ways, depending on whether you are a fan or a detractor. It can be seen as courageous because he gives up an official bike and goes on a year-old satellite bike just to have fun again, while on the other hand it can be thought that he was not grateful towards a manufacturer that made him win so much. It depends a lot on your liking or antipathy towards the character. Objectively, Marc tried, he gave it his all, he crashed a lot and he had probably reached a point where he wanted to be competitive again, also because the years pass. I can understand him".

"Holding back a rider who wants to leave is bad for both"

 

Do you also understand Honda's point of view? Couldn't they have put their foot down as they had a signed contract until the end of 2024?

“The press release says that they reached a consensual agreement, it may also mean that they found a financial arrangement. I believe that if a rider no longer wants to race your bike, there is no point in holding him back because you are hurting both of you. A Marquez who doesn't believe in it is bad for Honda's image. When the Japanese are under pressure they manage the situation badly, perhaps in the end it's better for them this way because they will be able to try to make the bike grow with less media tension and therefore work more calmly".

His team apparently won't be able to follow him, does this shock you?

“Very much, I was convinced that it was one of those things that made him decide not to leave. Marc said it was a tough decision and I think that was the reason. I realize that at the moment his priority is to have a competitive bike and if to have it you have to give up your team, then you hope that maybe in a year you will be in a different position to be able to take it back with you. In the end, that's what he did in his debut season in MotoGP: he wanted his entire Moto2 team, but we didn’t want any of them, the compromise was the arrival of Santi Hernandez. Then, when he was winning the World Championship, he asserted himself."

"MotoGP risks becoming a Ducati one-make championship, Marquez in KTM would have been more interesting"

Will Marquez's entry into Ducati upset the balance?

“Everyone says that in 2025 he will go to KTM, but I wouldn't take it for granted, I think he wants to demonstrate that he is still competitive and then put himself on the market. If he had already signed with KTM, cui prodest (whom does it profit?). Only the fans who will be able to see Marc go fast. The point is that if some are already complaining about Ducati's excessive power, next year it could be superior. The fans will certainly be happy to understand whether the strongest riders today on the Desmosedici really are or whether they will be beaten by Marc. It is something that will increase interest in the championship, but from a more global point of view this puts the other manufacturers in a position to struggle to stay in the top 10. If you think of 8 Ducatis, 2 or 3 KTMs, Aprilia which is very strong on some tracks, next year Quartararo will risk not being able to score points when last season he fought it out for the World Championship. If I were the organizer I would be worried, the balance has shifted too much."

Would it have made more sense to give KTM a third team for Marquez and Acosta to race?

“I don't know if it was Ezpeleta who blocked the operation or if they failed to ensure that the Gresini team, whose contract with Ducati is expiring, moved to KTM. However, it was a mistake in the management of the championship, because by doing so Ducati and KTM would have had 6 bikes each and Marquez on a KTM would have made everything even more interesting."

Imagine yourself on a Ducati: is Marquez a rider you sign regardless?

“Dall'Igna took a motorbike that was the ugly duckling of MotoGP and now, in order to ride it, an 8-time champion of the world has decided to leave HRC: from his point of view it's incredibly satisfying. I understand that it is for the technicians, from a marketing point of view it is an excellent operation, but if some say that MotoGP is a Ducati one-make championship, then next year it will be even more so. Unless KTM makes a missile, Binder takes a further step forward and Acosta isn't a kind of Marquez, capable of winning on his debut. We hope they are competitive, otherwise it will be total Ducati domination."

Crutchlow said that with Marquez in Ducati all the other riders might as well stay at home.

“We know Cal, he is a character that is missing from MotoGP. I believe that if they take it in the right way and that is, as a stimulus to demonstrate that even on the same bike they can beat him, it will be an excellent opportunity to silence those who say that they win only because they have a Ducati. The problem can become an opportunity."

"Japanese manufacturers must take an example from Suzuki: it had trust in European technicians"

Dall'Igna admitted that he was sought after by Honda. Is it a sign of weakness or a desire for change on the part of the Japanese?

“It's an atypical thing and, if it was done to keep Marquez, the timing was wrong. Even if Gigi had accepted, he doesn't have a magic wand and it would still have taken him some time to make Honda competitive. I believe that Suzuki was the example of how Japanese manufacturers should work at this time. When I arrived there, I noticed big differences compared to HRC, because I found highly trained European technicians and Japanese engineers who listened to them. They listened to them, something I feel Honda is now lacking. I remember that it took me a year to convince Nakamoto to hire Filippo Tosi to solve the problems with the unique software quickly. When he arrived, it was at first difficult for them to trust him. Rather than take a Dall'Igna, which would also be awkward in the media, I would have done something less sensational or substantial. Like taking people who work at Aprilia, Ducati and KTM to create a group, as long as you then listen to them. That's how it worked at Suzuki and last year it was the most competitive Japanese bike."

Honda remains the leading motorcycle manufacturer in the world, will what is happening serve as a lesson for a revolution?

“I find it difficult to answer because I don't know the people who are there now. Nakamoto's Honda returned to winning ways after years of results not living up to its reputation, and with him in a short time it returned to dominating. Until 2019 Marquez had still managed to patch things up, but the technical evolution of the last 3 years has led to the fact that the rider can now make less of a difference. It was such a fast process that it caught the Japanese unprepared.”

 

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