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Puig: ‘Honda’s history shows that they never give up’

In 2019, Honda won the triple crown: driver, manufacturer and team. But all this is to the credit of one: Marc Marquez. The Catalan has never finished worse than second with the exception of the GP of the Americas when he crashed while leading hands down.

And then there was that unfortunate race at Jerez in 2020 during which the eight-time world champion fractured his humerus. Since then, things have been very different in the Honda clan. Only two podiums in 2020 thanks to Alex Marquez, but no victory. We had to wait for his brother’s return to see a small glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.

Only one podium in 11 races

Marquez got Honda back to winning ways at the 2021 German GP ending the factory’s longest unsuccessful racing streak since its official return in 1982 (21 races in a row). Along the way, he also ended Honda’s longest non-podium streak (11 races).

This year, the winged manufacturer has only one podium thanks to the third place of Pol Espargaro in Qatar. It has therefore been 10 races that there has not been at least one Honda among the first three.

At Silverstone, Honda could thus equal its longest period of scarcity in terms of Top 3. of the six builders in Assen. There is no need to go into more detail, we are clearly not competitive. We have to progress and that is what we are trying to do. You can say it in many different ways, give a long explanation, but the truth is that we have to improve and change our process (…). In Honda’s history, we haven’t had more good than bad times in terms of results. Today we are experiencing a bad one. We have to solve it. »

For Honda to regain some of its luster, Puig stresses that the working method will have to be changed. “Honda’s history shows that they never give up,” he said. We can take a little or a long time, we know we will get there. We probably need to change our way of thinking. The key point is not to give up in the desire to find a better solution. »

“The priority is the total healing of his arm, there are no questions on this point”

Honda can already make a cross on the title and the first step of the podium seems difficult to reach. As team manager, Puig is of course hoping for the return of his spearhead before the end of the year to at least test the new RC213V for the 2023 season, but not before having fully recovered. “If possible, it would be great if he could try out the bike, say, after the summer, at the end of the year. It would be the best especially for our engineers to understand the direction to follow. But the priority is the total recovery of his arm, there are no questions on this point. That’s the way we do it. »

The 2023 transfer window

Marquez having signed a four-year contract, he is still guaranteed to ride for Honda until 2024. On the other hand, Espargaro should return to KTM within the Tech 3 team (team in which he took his first steps in MotoGP on a Yamaha in 2014). It is Joan Mir who is expected to officiate alongside Marquez. “When the Suzuki story came out, we were surprised,” Puig said. Obviously, I think the Suzuki riders talked to everyone, that’s normal. There are different options and we are considering them. We said from the start that it would take Honda longer to decide. And here we are. There are possibilities, big possibilities too. »

As for bringing up Ai Ogura, who is fighting for the title in Moto2, in place of Takaaki Nakagami at LCR, Puig replied: “(…) about Moto2 riders, it’s something that is not yet on the table. The championship is on, and in case Ogura gets a good result, that’s something we’ll probably discuss in Japan. »

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