It looks comfortable Alberto Puig (56 years old, Barcelona), main team of Repsol Honda, chatting in private with Marc Márquez and Joan Mir, his new pair of riders with whom they are trying to recover the ground lost by the golden wing in MotoGP. The expilot meets AS before the last week of preseason in Portimao and makes it clear that his factory does not evade the commitment it has with a Márquez who has fulfilled his part of the deal, that of recovering physically after the ordeal that resulted in the fracture of the right humerus in July 2020. That happens to give him a winning bike, something that lately has not been abundant in the Honda box and from which a Mir that Puig trusts would also benefit fully.
-During the presentation he said that Marc had been running last year with an arm and a half. How loud does that sound…
Well, two years actually. Now she is already with two arms.
-Can we be back before the best version of Márquez?
-That’s hard to know. It must be taken into account that the injury she suffered was very strong. Only he knows what he has had to go through to get where he is. He physically he is strong. He was seen in Sepang, where he had no pain. I now see a version of Marc with more experience and with the same desire as always, because the desire he has now is the same as he had when he started out as a child. You have to be fair in all things in life and we have to take a step forward with the bike. We know. If we achieve it, if we are able to do that, you are going to have to tell very good things every Sunday of the races.
-Marc has fulfilled his duties, he has put himself at the top physically after the injury suffered, and now it is Honda that has to do its part. Does Honda have more pressure than ever to be forced to match the level of effort that Marc has made?
-The pressure is always the same.
-Is there really no more now?
-I can summarize it by saying that we know we have to improve the bike. We have that obligation, but not only because of the riders, but also as a company, like Honda and because of history. We must improve the bike, for Márquez, Mir and for our history. Obviously, we want to give our drivers the best material possible, because it is fair. And that’s where we are.
– Do you know what Mir has to do differently from what Pol and Lorenzo did to achieve with Honda the successes that they did not achieve?
-Each driver is different and each one has come to this team at a different time in his life. I think Joan arrives at a good time for him, with experience and with things clear. The first thing we have to do is give them the bike, because it’s fair. If we achieve that, Joan is going to be fighting and he is going to give many surprises, because he is a driver who has won two world championships. Me, when I see that a driver on his business card says world champion, I stop and square myself. If we manage to take the step, the two drivers will be there.
-A Honda is seen more humble than other times, accepting to work with other brands, as it did by incorporating Kalex technology, signing personnel from other brands and acknowledging mistakes. Have you opened your mind at Honda?
-Progress always comes from acknowledging your mistakes and looking for solutions, and Honda is a leading company. This is not new now. Whenever they have not found the way, they have looked for the way to do it. Before, the same was done with technologies in Japan and now they are looking for new technologies in Europe or new personnel. The goal in the end is always to seek excellence and performance of the bike. We are all collaborating in the way we can. You have to take into account that a team like this is complicated, because there is Japanese culture with a lot of European people. We have to try to each give our maximum and that from there comes a consensus so that things work out. And that’s where we are.
-For me, his greatest success in his current position was getting Márquez to renew for four years with Honda, when it was something that had not been seen before. There are two years left on that contract, this one and the next one. Are you worried that he might emigrate if Honda doesn’t give him the weapons he needs?
-(Smile). Our duty is to give him the best bike possible and, if we give him the best bike possible, I think… Marc has a great track record with Honda. He has won many things. It is a subject that I cannot raise now because we have two championships ahead of us, this one and another one next year. I have been a pilot and I know that pilots always look for the best for themselves. Marc, logically, will do that, but he is also a person who values everything that Honda has done. Our duty is to give him that bike and I don’t want to get ahead of things that don’t touch at this time. What we have to do now is the Portimao test and see if we have improved the bike. That’s the only thing on my mind right now.