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Chatting to Spanish MotoGP™ broadcaster DAZN at the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel, Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig revealed where Honda’s performance gain has come from in the last couple of races, as well as giving an update on the recovery of Marc Marquez. Puig also discusses Alex Marquez’ recent rise to premier class stardom, comparing his performance on the RC213V to the likes of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
Honda's performance has changed at this point in the season, where does it come from?
“I don't think it comes from anywhere. Obviously, Alex did not know the category and little by little he has been understanding the bike until he has reached a point that now he probably understands it much better than three or four months ago. Now he is beginning to understand how to ride the bike and with just seven or eight races he has already made podiums. This shows you that this bike is not as bad as people said. We also have Bradl who is a test rider, in Le Mans he was 8th, today he is 4th… I mean, what happens? Was the bike not going well before and now it is going well? I think this is all a bit of a stretch.
“The only thing that is evident is that Alex in a very short time has taken a brutal step and that he is riding a motorcycle that once you understand it, you can make it go fast. And Alex has understood the bike. There have been other riders, last year for example, great riders, not to say one of the best in history such as Jorge Lorenzo, he was not able to understand the bike and that is why it was difficult for him to take the step. Alex, for whatever reason, has understood the bike, has known how to handle it and has gotten into the subject.”
A great Champion like Lorenzo spent a year fighting for points, and a year before another great Champion in Pedrosa did not achieve a podium, doesn't that also have to do with the motorcycle?
“I think it has to do with the fact that, for whatever reason, these two riders you mentioned, who are among the best I have ever met and the best there have ever been, have not been able to adapt to what that bike needed. It's what I think because, obviously, their worth is unquestionable and their achievements too. They have both been Champions, some of the best there have been, with some of the most beautiful moments that I have experienced in motorcycling, of young riders who climbed super fast with a potential that is still to be found here today. But I also tell you that, whatever it is, Alex has understood this motorcycle, a delicate motorcycle, that you have to carry it in a certain way to get the most out of it and he has. He has done it in a short time, with which he has a lot of merit and must be congratulated.”
In a normal season, without COVID-19 and with Alex Marquez having two podiums in his first 10 races, would your decision have been different? Would he still be at Repsol Honda?
“We believe that the decision we made was the correct one at the time and we continue to believe it because Alex is going to be a Honda rider for the next two years. Alex is an official Honda rider and he will be racing the same bike in another structure. He will be in our circle and we will be very in touch with him for what may happen. He knows perfectly well that he will have the support of Honda. We are going to be pending, we have made a factory contract, with which we are not worried. We are sure that where he is going to go will be fine, he will learn and he can probably return to this team.”
It has been published that Marc Marquez is going to have to go through, or could have to, undergo surgery for the third time. Is this true or not?
“Marc you already know that he is recovering, he is trying to be well again, he is being slower than we thought, but in principle the idea is to try to make sure that this is well consolidated and that he can continue to recover, that the truth is that it is going slow, but it is going forward, so at this moment there is no reason to think about anything else, let's hope. Obviously, I am not a fortune teller, but in theory we have to think that this can go well.”
What is more likely now: that he will return before the end of the season or that he will not return?
“Most likely, he will continue to recover little by little (smiles).”
8 months ago