It was a bitter end to the story between Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda team, which concluded with a crash on the sixth lap of the Valencia Grand Prix, caused by a contact with Jorge Martin. A discordant note in an adventure that has yielded six World Championships, 59 victories and 2,626 points for the Catalan rider and the Japanese manufacturer.
“I took a bad hit, especially on the head, on the ankle and also on the neck, since I ended up in the gravel, but the most important thing is that nothing is broken” said Marc at the end of the race, taking heart from his condition after the violent crash suffered during the race.
“This time it wasn't my mistake, but I didn't end my relationship with Honda in a positive way or in the way we would have liked. Honestly, I approached this weekend as if I were competing for the World Championship, staying focused in every session. Yesterday we got on the podium and I don't want to say that we could have done it today too, but the pace was there, I was strong and I was managing the tyres - continued the eight-time world champion - Jorge was a bit too optimistic with that overtake but I can understand him and I understand his mentality very well. I saw his race, I think he warmed up with Vinales and I imagine he attacked me aiming to catch the rider in red up front. As a rider I can understand it and he has already apologized to me. However, this does not change the great emotions felt during this weekend. Yesterday we had an event to say 'goodbye' with all the Honda staff and today too it was very emotional."
Although his race lasted just the space of six laps, the one with Martin was not the only contact that Marquez had as a protagonist, having touched Marco Bezzecchi on the first lap of the race.
"I will not lose a lot of time with this rider because during this season he already push me out many times. He came to my truck but I'm not going to make any comment about it because it might be inappropriate. I think that when he matures a bit more he will regret what he said to me - commented the Iberian - It's normal. I was on inside, he tried to keep the outside line to come back on Turn 4. But, if you are outside you will lose if the rider inside keeps the speed. And it's what we did from Turn 2 to Turn 3, we were parallel and we tried to keep the outside line to come back in Turn 4. But nothing more. I will not lose more time with him."
Despite the result of the GP, the weekend in Valencia was full of emotions for the 30-year-old from Cervera, who still carries in his eyes, and in his heart, the last podium achieved with his team in the Sprint race.
“This weekend was more difficult than expected from an emotional point of view. Obviously I expected a lot of emotions, but it was a very difficult day, especially in the afternoon, when I saw people like the Japanese big bosses and Alberto Puig crying. I couldn't control my feelings and even now, if I move on, I would still get emotional. Which I don't want to do because I've already cried a lot inside the garage. I'm happy and proud of my group - said Marc - These are emotions that are too deep to be forgotten overnight. Tuesday will be very strange and I will feel a lot of emotions during the winter, also because I still have doubts about whether I made the right decision. Next year we will try to be competitive again and we will see if we can get back to fighting for the championship or not. Going to a familiar team will help, but it will still be difficult to adapt, entering the garage and not seeing Santi and my mechanics. It will be different next year, but I know I'll still be joining another good group."
Joining the Gresini team will be a big change after 11 years spent with Honda in MotoGP.
“I have never faced a challenge like this in the past, because I have always worked with Honda. It will be a very risky challenge, because the most comfortable solution for me would have been to stay there and continue to develop the project, but I owed myself some answers, which I will find next year, and I had to smile again inside my helmet, if I wanted to continue my career for a long time", pointed out the eldest of the Marquez brothers, proud of what he has given to the Tokyo manufacturer in these long years: "The most important thing I brought to Honda was the spirit: to fight every time until the end. Even on Thursday I told them that nothing was at stake, but that I would still fight until the last lap of Sunday's race. Just like I did today. It's not only about the spirit to fight on the track, but also the spirit off the track because every person is important; from the guy who takes care of the tyres to the best engineer in Japan. I have always tried to form a group because you don't do anything alone. It's an aspect that Honda is working a lot on at the moment. They are changing engineers and philosophy and maybe they will need time, but maybe not because Honda is Honda and next year it could even have a rocket. The truth is that they will return to the top with or without me, but the spirit of unity will always be the most important thing that I brought to Honda."
Racing with Nadia Padovani's team will not only give the Cervera rider the opportunity to race on a Ducati, but also to study the data of his rivals.
“I want to congratulate Pecco because he did the most difficult thing for a rider, which is to reconfirm his win. Martin put a lot of pressure on him, but even today he was good and intelligent. I can't wait to analyse Bagnaia's data and see what he's doing because right now he and Martin are the fastest riders on the track - he observed - It's difficult to understand what their weaknesses are and it will be interesting to understand , because it seems that all the riders manage to go fast with a Ducati, but only Pecco and Martin managed to be consistent throughout the championship. In the past the riders who came to Honda tried to copy my style, but perhaps now the time has come to do the opposite and understand what they are doing with that bike, given that they have ridden it for several years."
However, the fact of having changed team and manufacturer does not mean that the paths of Marc and Honda cannot cross again in the near future.
“I have no intention of closing any doors for the future, neither those of Honda nor of other brands, because I have never done so and it would be a mistake - clarified the 30-year-old - As I have already said in the past, the relationship with Honda was fantastic and the decision to end it was mutual. I didn't want the situation to reach a critical point when we started talking about separation, because I would like the doors at Honda to remain open. Maybe the other manufacturers don't like to hear it, but it will always be the team of my life and my career, because I won six World Championships and a lot of victories with them and these are numbers that I won't be able to achieve with anyone else. Honda will always be the most special team in my heart, but we will have to see if our paths can cross again in the future. It won't be my decision alone."
What should Honda do to get back in the game?
“If you want, let's start with the rumours about 2025 - Marquez replied laughing - I can't answer this question, even if I wanted to. When I was at Honda, I never closed the possibility of leaving. It wasn't my intention, but you never know. I hoped and hope to have many more years of career left, and you never know what will happen. Being an ambitious racer however, I have always prioritized sport and being in the best place to achieve my goals, which are none other than winning races. I look for the best situation and the best compromise to have more options. Then, whether or not you reach your goal depends on many factors."