Oliveira admits Honda MotoGP ‘approach’ to replace Marquez
RNF Aprilia rider Miguel Oliveira has acknowledged an “approach” from Honda to take the factory MotoGP ride being vacated by Marc Marquez.
Marquez will leave Honda after seeing out three years of a four-year deal, set to instead to be announced as a Gresini Ducati rider – having made the calculation that a satellite Ducati Desmosedici will give him a much better chance of fighting for the MotoGP title than the work-in-progress Honda RC213V.
Johann Zarco, recruited to fill an Alex Rins-shaped hole at Honda’s satellite team LCR, appeared the logical candidate to slot into his place in the factory team – but Motorsport.com’s Spanish edition reported earlier this week that Oliveira was actually Honda’s preferred choice for the ride alongside Marquez’s current team-mate Joan Mir.
Oliveira began to laugh when asked by The Race about the report on Thursday at Mandalika, conceding that the question had to be posed to him.
“I think this season we’ve seen a lot of unprecedented things,” he said.
“We’ve seen riders put at home with contracts [a possible reference to Pol Espargaro’s situation], we’ve seen riders breaking contracts and going to other places. So anything is possible.
“It’s true that it’s a pleasure to be considered by another manufacturer such as Honda, especially when it’s a factory seat on offer.
“I didn’t have it in my mind to change, and there is nothing on the table yet, just an approach. But nothing concrete.”
Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola was very firm when discussing the prospect of Oliveira leaving with Italian outlet GPone – stressing the Portuguese rider’s two-year contract directly with Aprilia and insisting there was no path to that being broken.
Oliveira’s own answers suggest he doesn’t necessarily see it that way, but he did also reveal that the current deal gives Aprilia “the right [presumably binding] to offer me a factory seat for 2025 and 2026, but not 2024”.
On Zarco’s end, the Frenchman said he still hadn’t heard Honda’s “position” and was expecting “a few discussions this weekend” for himself and his manager.
Zarco already alluded to being keen on an eventual Honda factory team ride back when making his original LCR commitment – and reiterated here that “taking the seat of Marc could have sense”, but also acknowledged it could be tough on LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello.
“My work, staying with LCR, would be almost the same as going in the factory team because I have the contract to get the factory[-spec] bike and get the development, but to be inside the factory team is prestigious.