There was a time, not too long ago, when the Repsol Honda team was the bogeyman of the premier class. He devastated with Mick Doohan, he won again with Álex Crivillé, he beat up his rivals again with Valentino Rossi, two very different drivers like Casey Stoner and Nick Hayden also brought the color orange to the top, and they passed the roller many times with Marc Marquez. The last time that was in 2019 and now, even with the eight-time world champion in its ranks, it also incorporates Joan Mir with the hope that this pair of champions will revive the pulse of Repsol Honda, the team that all riders have dreamed of being part of at some point.
The 2023 course starts on March 26 in Portimao and today they have presented themselves in Madrid, on the campus of the Spanish oil company, with a new pair of bell pilots who have not started very brightly in the Sepang test. No matter how good Marc Márquez and Joan Mir are, if the Honda RC213V does not accompany them it will be impossible for them to win the title, but they still trust that the golden wing will give them the necessary weapons to be able to fight against the Ducati squad, mainly. The six-time MotoGP champion and the 2020 champion…
Before the pilots spoke Marcos Fraga, Repsol’s director of communication and brand, and said: “It’s a very beautiful day because we celebrate everything that makes victories and championships possible, the joint work of Repsol and Honda, with some riders who make those victories possible. It is a pride for us. This alliance means much more than what is seen on the bike, because behind it there is a work team, ours in Móstoles and Honda’s, in Saitama. The competition is an incomparable value for Repsol and it has been an alliance for 29 years, with similar values. And we are always looking to the future. In 2024 there will be renewable fuels in competition, with 40%, and in 2027 it will be 100%. It is a path in which we are working together and much remains to be developed”.
Tetchuhiro Kuwata, director of HRC, took over from the oil company: “Repsol and Honda have an incredible history together. We have worked hard to improve our bikes. In the Portimao test we will see our level and we will continue to improve and develop the bike. We hope to have Marc fit and without physical limitations, and give him the potential to do what he has done in the past and get back to the front in the championship. And about Mir, glad that he is with us. He was already champion with Honda in 2017 and we trust that he can adapt to our bike and be in front. The championship is very tight and the introduction of sprint races is a very important challenge. We will be very busy, but we are confident that the Repsol Honda team will be in front again”.
And when the pilots’ turn came, Márquez began speaking: “It has been a normal winter after 4 or 5 winters in which I was injured and it has been good for me to rest and train. In Malaysia I felt very good but there is room for improvement because I like to be a perfectionist and we have to get to Portimao as well as possible. The sensations in preseason are always exciting, you have to be optimistic because we are HRC and you have to all row in the same direction and in my case, after three years that have been the worst of my sports career and in which Honda has not done well either We have to keep moving forward as a team but I am convinced that if we join forces we can do something interesting”.
About Mir he said: “Joan can bring what HRC expect to win races Well, you are obliged to do so and even though he comes from another brand, both in Valencia and in Sepang, his comments were very similar to mine and that makes Honda’s job easier and hopefully we can fight many races together to be as high as possible”.
As for Mir, he began by saying: “For me it is an honor and I am super nervous, because I have imagined myself wearing these colors many times. I really want to start. I think they are coming off some difficult seasons and it is clear that we are trying to come up with the best package to start this season. It’s not easy, because I have to adapt to this engine, which is different, and to a bike that is different from what I’ve ridden up to now. And having to adapt and try pieces at the same time is not easy. But I think we’ve come close to a pretty good level and we’ll have to keep working in Portimao.”
Regarding his change of scenery: “A change always gives freshness to the team. Be a partner of Marc measures you because you compare yourself to the best and we will make ourselves give more. The feedback has been similar and the direction we are taking is the same, which makes things easier in Japan.”