It’s official: Marc Marquez to leave Repsol Honda
It’s finally official. HRC and Marc Marquez have confirmed they will terminate their working relationship at the end of 2023, bringing to an end a decorated 11-year partnership.
Even if his four-year contract with Honda doesn’t expire until the end of 2024, Marquez’s future has been the subject of great speculation since the end of last year, when he made it clear to senior Honda management that he was far from impressed by their efforts to improve the woefully uncompetitive RC213V.
The Spaniard is widely expected to be confirmed at Gresini Ducati for next year, where he will ride a year-old Desmosedici GP23 alongside brother Alex.
There have been numerous flashpoints through 2023, from a shocking preseason test at Sepang, where the factory hadn’t brought anything significant for its lead rider to test, to the downright disastrous German GP, where he gave his bike the middle finger and crashed five times, failing to make the race through injury.
Marquez was widely believed to be seeking alternatives for 2024 during this year’s summer break, including exploring the possibility of riding a KTM. It was around then it also became clear that riding a Ducati in Gresini colors was also a possibility he was considering.
For its part, Honda has long acknowledged that its star rider may not be riding in its colors next year. After another horrendous weekend at Assen, Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig said, “Every person is free to do what he wants in life, and Honda is not a company that wants to have people that is not happy being in Honda. Honda respects Marc a lot. I want to think yes (he will stay), but I don’t have a magic ball.”
Honda since reacted to another disastrous season, in which Marquez, its lead rider, sits 15th in the World Championship, 255 points back of current leader Francesco Bagnaia. It has decided to shake up its MotoGP project, even axing Director Shinichi Kokubu, a mainstay in the factory since 1986. And at September’s San Marino GP there were hints the #93 was considering staying. But another poor post-race test, where he insisted HRC’s ’24 prototype bike was worse than his current machine, appeared to be the final straw.
The writing was on the wall during the Japanese GP. Asked if he could be convinced by senior Honda management to stay, he said, “Maybe my mind is already made up.” He then called Sunday’s third place “a romantic podium,” leading Bagnaia – sat to his right in the post-race press conference – to quip, “Bye, bye, Honda.”
While Marquez’s fortunes have been in a tailspin from the moment he fractured his upper right arm at Jerez in July, 2020, his record at Repsol Honda before then was the stuff of legend: six premier class titles, 59 wins, 101 podiums and 64 pole positions. Together, he and Honda won the elusive Triple Crown – the Rider’s, Constructor’s and Team’s Championships – five times, while he cemented his status as an all-time great of the sport.
An official statement from Honda read, “Both parties will continue to give their full support for the remaining rounds of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season. HRC wish Marc Marquez the best in his future endeavors.”