Honda’s 2023 signing should already be on the bike

From test rider Stefan Bradl to team principal Alberto Puig, Honda’s barely concealed nostalgia for Marc Marquez’s absence and desire for him to return as soon as possible is easy to understand.

Even at 80%, Marquez remains a transcendent and towering figure in the Honda program, someone who was winning races last year and likely would have dragged this current iteration of the RC213V – barely a Q2 bike at the moment – ​​to the most high step at the Circuit of the Americas this year if there had been no penalty.

But as the needle of the proverbial clock grows louder with each passing moment, Marquez isn’t on the Honda to give it development direction for the all-important 2023 machine, he won’t be the only one to ride this machine next year. His expected future teammate, himself a MotoGP world champion, would also be a huge asset to mold this bike – but while Marquez is not yet ready to ride due to health reasons, this potential teammate is simply busy doing towers. in a dead end season for a dead end project.

Joan Mir’s 2021 season has been one hell of a season, a powerful confirmation of her credentials as someone who deserved this success in 2020. Last year’s Suzuki could never get her to a repeat title, but he dragged it, kicking and screaming, to a credible third place, making the most of the opportunities and staying cool amid the general disappointment of the campaign. As Alex Rins more or less lost his mind, Mir kept Suzuki out of the water.

So Mir’s 2021 was a good show. And Mir’s 2022 is a waste of time, with a bike that’s no better than the sum of its parts and a rider whose mind appears elsewhere, at least judging by the absurd amount of ending crashes. racing – his four unassisted DNFs in the last six races leaving him 12th in the standings.


Joan Mir at Suzuki

Average starting position

2019 – 12.3
2020 – 9.6
2021 – 9.5
2022 – 10.8

Average final position

2019 – 9.5
2020 – 3.9
2021 – 4.8
2022 – 5.4

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Laps run in the top three

2019 – 2
2020 – 85
2021 – 120
2022 – 18

Points after 12 races

2019 – 39 (13th)
2020 – 162 (1st)
2021 – 141 (2nd)
2022 – 77 (12th)


“I have to push really hard to be in the group, to overtake, to have a chance,” Mir told the official MotoGP website after his latest crash at Silverstone.

“And this time around, we haven’t been riding in those conditions all weekend, the [tyre] the pressures probably weren’t perfect for us, and you know, those things can happen. We don’t need to think too much and keep working.

“Let’s continue like this, take the right information because we were [running] behind the top guys, and we might see something interesting going forward to improve our bike, and that’s the most important thing.

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Mir loves Suzuki – the MotoGP racing team – and Suzuki loves Mir. He was ready to re-commit for 2023 and beyond before the plug was pulled, and in his media appearances since then he has hardly ever shied away from putting his current team and crew front and center, and exude a certain desperation to ensure a positive end to their time together.

But the “future” he is talking about now is eight races. The Suzuki GSX-RR, which has never looked like a credible victory threat at any point in the season apart from the handful of laps Rins led at Silverstone before coming to a halt, will not change dramatically. In fact, it would be a complete disappointment if it did, because this bike is finished.

A more powerful and more qualifying machine but one that has lost some of its toughness in race trim, the 2022 GSX-RR would have been a great starting point as it looks like a bike that just needs more power. optimization – but with only eight runs left in his lifespan, there are better uses of Mir’s time than making him perfect just in time for him to disappear into thin air.

Instead, the best use of Mir’s time would be to immediately swap Suzuki leathers for Honda livery, freeing Marquez’s replacement Bradl to go back to being a full-time test rider and getting the kind of accommodation period which seems to have proved so useful. to, say, Maverick Vinales at Aprilia.

It almost certainly won’t happen. On the one hand, there’s the whole Monster/Red Bull factor in terms of team sponsorships – but on the other, the Mir/Honda deal, even for 2023, still seems surprisingly far off, even though they’re now effectively the only options for each other, along with Honda. with incumbent Pol Espargaro having already apparently committed to Tech3 KTM.

“I’m not worried. If someone wants me, they will. [call] – otherwise I’ll be home,” Mir said of his future at Silverstone.

“All I can say is not favorable to me. So I don’t want to talk. The only thing is that I hope to hear from you soon, for my calm, for different stuff. I want to hear from you .

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Obviously, reading between the lines, it didn’t turn out to be an easy negotiation. But because there is no real alternative for both sides, Paco Sanchez, the manager of Honda and Mir, can afford to take time.

And yet, it would be better for all parties involved – except Suzuki, for whom nothing that happens really matters – if a deal was done now and Mir was a Honda rider immediately. Financially it might be tricky, but from a sporting point of view it’s shockingly obvious.

Suzuki could still plug in test rider Sylvain Guintoli – it’s not like he has his hands full of 2023 development, and it would be the kind of goodwill gesture to Mir that could offer some sparkle from public relations to the controversial way he handled his MotoGP exit. And it would also save or even save money by allowing the move.

And Honda, instead of having to nervously wait for Marquez’s medical results and potentially risk time pressure indirectly precipitating him before he’s optimal, would have someone to provide the required input while still sleeping with a very different kind of bike.

An early exit makes too much sense and, again, absolutely will not happen. If this had already been planned, it really should have been negotiated and arranged during the summer holidays.

Instead, in the best-case scenario, Honda will pick up Marquez for the next Misano test and he’ll steer the ship, while Mir will somehow pick up a second victory to add to his Suzuki CV before moving on to RC213V. -season.

In a scenario that seems more realistic, Marquez will race once or twice this season, and Mir will go from his current dismal 12th place to something like seventh in the standings – something that will make little difference to his legacy or his future. – before he hops on the Honda.

In any case, it will be a waste of precious time. And, with Marquez having recently described Honda as being “in a critical moment,” you have to wonder if the time wasted is time he doesn’t really have – and if he’s missing an opportunity to take a big swing.

About Todd Wurtsbach

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