15 hours ago
It's difficult to say what progress would look like for Honda in 2023. By the simple definition of the word, anything other than finishing bottom of the Constructors' Championship could be deemed as progress, but we're talking about the most successful and most powerful factory in the history of the sport. Anything other than challenging for the MotoGP™ World Championship is deemed as a failure by HRC, so is that likely to happen in 2023?
They now boast arguably the strongest rider line-up on the grid, with two-time World Champion Joan Mir and five-time MotoGP™ race winner Alex Rins joining eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez. Plus, their third Suzuki addition comes in the shape of one of the sharpest minds in the paddock, new Technical Manager Ken Kawauchi. They have all of the pieces there in front of them, now they need to complete the puzzle.
More thrill, more action... more MotoGP™ than ever
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez is finally back to the peak of his powers after three years and four operations. Team boss Alberto Puig and Marc himself have confirmed he's both physically and mentally ready for the upcoming season. But without fully knowing the limits of his 2023 package, it's impossible to say what the Spaniard can achieve.
We know the eight-time World Champion has the ability to wrestle a less-than-impressive bike to more-than-impressive things, so don't be surprised to see Marquez qualifying on the front row of the grid, taking MotoGP™ Sprints by storm and challenging for Grand Prix victories, especially at the opening few rounds of the year.
"Best feeling" of pre-season arrives for Marc Marquez
Termas, Austin and Jerez are three of Marquez's happiest hunting grounds and he'll be hoping to start the year as positively as possible to give the HRC camp a much-needed boost. Can he then continue what we expect to be strong early form throughout the rest of the year? We'll have to wait and see.
It's coming up to six years since Marc Marquez's teammate was able to win a MotoGP™ race. Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Alex Marquez and Pol Espargaro have all tried to but failed in the five seasons since the Little Samurai's final premier class victory at Valencia in 2017. So, there's target number one for Joan Mir: end the streak.
"Work to do" – Puig outlines where HRC lie
The 2020 World Champion not only wants to end Repsol Honda's voodoo but also get back onto a premier class podium following a 2022 campaign that fell apart at the seams. Suzuki's bombshell exit was followed by a multitude of crashes and injuries that left him at the lowest point of his Grand Prix career. Now, after being Honda's fastest man at the final pre-season test in Portimao, he's looking to fight back and show everyone why he's twice Champion of the World.
Two wins from the last three races of 2022 has Alex Rins down as the form man on the MotoGP™ grid heading into the new season. A quite stunning ride at Phillip Island saw him fight off Marc Marquez on the final lap, before he followed it up by giving his Suzuki crew the perfect send-off with victory in Valencia. He's carried that confidence over to his new challenge as well, by adapting to the LCR Honda quite impressively.
Only 0.004 of a second behind Marquez and 0.020 of second behind Mir shows that Rins is more than capable of taking it to the factory men this coming season. Just like Marquez and Mir, it's clear to everyone that the Spaniard has the talent and the ability to beat the very best in MotoGP™ but will he have the motorcycle to do it?
LCR Honda Idemitsu's Takaaki Nakagami is fighting for his MotoGP™ life in 2023. The Japanese rider knows full well that he has to impress in the opening half of the year because there are Honda Team Asia hotshots, Ai Ogura and Somkiat Chantra, chomping at the bit for a chance in the premier class.
After an injury-plagued second half of 2022, Nakagami now has his right hand sorted and will be hoping to finally fulfill his obvious potential. Round 4 is a clear target for the 31-year-old as he has great form around the Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto. You feel a debut MotoGP™ podium is going to be required if we're to see the number 30 back in the premier class next season.
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