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MotoGP, Honda firing at random: searching for a post-Marquez rider

The name of Marc's heir in HRC is still unknown but the list of candidates seems very long. It was the fault of the Spaniard's late farewell but also of rather less than linear management

MotoGP: Honda firing at random: searching for a post-Marquez rider

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If we lined up all the names associated with Honda HRC to take over Marc Marquez's orphaned RCV213, we could almost compose a starting grid for a category. A sort of fanta-MotoGP rider game that would have been really difficult to imagine just a few years ago, also because a list of this type has always been there but the search direction was the opposite.

Basically every rider in the world wanted to get on the Factory Team Honda in MotoGP, the bike most coveted by everyone and the point of arrival for any rider who wanted to leave their mark in the paddock and this was a situation valid at least until 2020. Today the roles are literally reversed and as the end of the 2023 world championship approaches there is still no certainty regarding the name of the rider who will wear HRC colours alongside Joan Mir in 2024.

Alberto Puig first tried to convince Marc to stay and did everything he could, going shopping in the paddock after having received the OK from Honda to poach top engineers who could indicate a better future for Marquez. However, when this attempt fell on deaf ears and the Spaniard formalized his decision to leave Honda, Puig found himself with a very complex hot potato to manage, aware of being late and above all of not having a sought-after motorbike at his disposal for riders, but rather a career grinder.

Honda HRC: it was the most desired, now the most difficult

 

Among other things, it was surprising to read the words of Puig, who was convinced that Marquez would have won elsewhere because Honda had not been able to provide him with an adequate bike. We don't know what they thought in Japan, but honestly we can remember a Honda being a lot more attentive to those who spoke in a certain way about its bikes. In any case, since that day Puig has been forced into a real manhunt which however he seems to be carrying out without any logic. From Miguel Oliveira to Maverick Vinales, passing through the attempt to snatch Zarco from LCR to bring him to HRC. A hunt that continued also involving Alonso Lopez and Fermin Aldeguer, the last rider to end up on Alberto's list according to the Spanish media. Pol Espargaró was also put on this list when Puig confirmed he was negotiating with at least two riders currently in MotoGP.

 

Fabio Di Giannantonio and Luca Marini were also included in the roundabout of names. Diggia's manager confirmed the contacts, while those directly involved deny Marini, but we know that there is a grain of truth in this negotiation too. Honestly, it's not easy to understand why the easiest decision wasn't made today, which is to give Fabio Di Giannantonio a chance. The Roman is young, has shown a lot of growth in 2023 and would be willing to accept an annual contract, a condition that the other big names contacted have not accepted. If we look at the two riders coming from Moto2, it is easy to understand how difficult it is for each of them to imagine the jump to MotoGP with such a complex bike. It would undoubtedly mean getting burned, just as from a certain point of view what happened to Lecuona with Tech3's KTM. The Spaniard was placed on that bike to resolve the Zarco emergency, but despite excellent improvement in the two years astride the RC16, he was not reconfirmed.

So choosing a rookie from Moto2 today, knowing full well that you don't have time to let him grow, seems more like an attempted murder of a career than a promotion. Among other things, we also remember how Alex Marquez was treated, promoted from Moto2 to HRC and then diverted to LCR without even taking part in the first race of 2020. Not very reassuring signs for a rider who wants to attempt this challenge.

This is also why we remain convinced that the best path for HRC today is to sign Di Giannantonio and hope that Fabio can best interpret the RCV. Today's MotoGP bikes are extremely difficult beasts. Between the aerodynamics, lowering devices and futuristic technology in every single aspect of the bike, no other category can truly train a rider for this one. For this reason, a rider who already knows the world of MotoGP, who is already aware of the complexity of pushing a prototype to the limit today, seems like the only viable choice for Honda today.

Yet Alberto Puig continues to hesitate and the signature, to date, has not yet arrived. And if it hasn't happened it's only because the Spanish manager is doing everything he can to find an alternative that we can’t see. The only thought that comes to mind concerns the words Stefan Bradl said to us in Jerez. The German spoke to us about Di Giannantonio and Zarco as possible HRC riders. A sentence perhaps said without giving too much importance to the message and this message could concern still-pending negotiations to poach the Frenchman from LCR, despite the clear refusal of both Lucio Cecchinello and Zarco himself, who said he preferred a two-year project in the same team. This is the nub of the matter however, because maybe Puig wants to try to have Zarco in HRC for two years and place Di Giannantonio with Lucio Cecchinello.

Among the various solutions that have been circulating in this period regarding the post-Marquez enigma in Honda, this combination appears to be the most sensible one. HRC would find itself a two-time world champion rider and already capable (hallelujah) of winning at least one Grand Prix in MotoGP. At the same time, Fabio Di Giannantonio would give Cecchinello greater guarantees than those he would receive if he were 'forced' to hire a rider from Moto2 and as much as Lucio may object, Honda can in turn decide to raise its voice and choose the destination of the rider. Of course, the contract between HRC and LCR expires in 2024 and certainly such a decision would not lay the best foundations for a renewal. But that is another story.

 

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