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MotoGP, Luca Marini, a place in the sun: here's why Honda accepted a two-year deal

With Mir's contract expiring at the end of 2024, it will be the VR46 rider who will host in the Repsol-Honda garage, who knows, maybe even the resurrected Marc Marquez.

MotoGP: Luca Marini, a place in the sun: here's why Honda accepted a two-year deal

The unusual aspect of this warm Christmas doesn't lie in the weather, nor in the fact that, like many of his colleagues, Luca Marini has chosen to spend the holidays under the sun, in his case, in Bora Bora. What truly stands out is the fact that he is one of only two MotoGP riders with a contract extending beyond 2024; the other being Brad Binder with KTM.

Adding to the strangeness, is the fact that Luca, despite consistently improving throughout his career, does not hold the title of a world champion like his new teammate Joan Mir. In fact, he has yet to secure a Grand Prix victory.

When 'Maro' announced his signing with the Repsol-Honda team, the news didn't come as a surprise, as it had been circulating for some time. However, what did raise eyebrows was the revelation that his contract, as confirmed by HRC, spanned two years. This year the Repsol-Honda team, which had struggled for competitiveness, had been turned down by several riders. Among them were Oliveira and Zarco, both of whom favored LCR, primarily because the contract on offer was only for one year.

Even Marc Marquez himself was taken aback by the surprise, as he, like many others, had anticipated a one-year deal for Fabio Di Giannantonio, rather than Luca Marini.

Marc's surprise did not stem from the choice of rider, as many consider Luca to be an intelligent rider and possibly better suited for the role. Instead, it was the extension of the contract, which had been denied to others, that caught him off guard.

This development carries significant weight, considering the substantial turnover that the team has witnessed in recent years. Marini will become the ninth different rider to don the Repsol Honda colors since the beginning of 2018, including test rider Stefan Bradl and Iker Lecuona, who stepped in for seven substitutions in 2023.

The past three years have been challenging for what was once a dominant force in the championship. Dani Pedrosa's contract was not renewed, Jorge Lorenzo retired midway through a two-year deal after a severe accident that nearly left him paralyzed. Alex Marquez was swiftly transferred to the LCR team, while Pol Espargaro experienced a rather ill-fated two-year contract.

Of the last three seasons, the most recent one was the most challenging, not only in terms of results but also because it appeared, and indeed was true, that all riders, except Nakagami, were eager to move on. Mir attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to leave, Alex Rins was allowed to join Yamaha despite being the only one to secure a Grand Prix victory in Austin. The biggest surprise, however, was the release granted to Marc Marquez at the end of his third year in a four-year agreement.
This brings us back to the initial question: Why did Luca Marini receive a two-year contract offer?

Fabio Di Giannantonio, the surprise of late 2023 and a Grand Prix winner, would have eagerly accepted a one-year deal. However, before this could transpire, HRC had already secured Luca's signature.

This situation places Joan Mir in a delicate position, as his contract expires at the end of 2024, and Honda will have the liberty to bring in another rider alongside Luca.

The answer to this unusual situation may lie in Honda's commitment to team restructuring. Honda may be looking to avoid a complete team rebuild at the end of 2024, and instead, they have opted to entrust a rider who appears intelligent, dependable, and fast enough for development.

In summary, while Mir may have concerns about his place in the team, Marini seems to be the cornerstone around which HRC is envisioning its future. It is no coincidence that, after an extensive search proved futile, Honda has considered the offer - because it was him who proposed it - from Luca Marini. Who knows what the future holds; in 2025, Luca Marini might just become Marc Marquez's new teammate. There is little doubt that Marc will once again be part of an official factory team in 2025.





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