"There are no excuses" – Suppo talks Honda’s 2023 chances

An all-star line-up of Marquez, Mir, Rins and Nakagami has the legendary team boss adamant that it’s time for Honda to deliver

There's no denying that Honda mean business in 2023. They were aggressive in the rider market by snapping up both Joan Mir and Alex Rins and have continued that trend by signing Ken Kawauchi as their new Technical Manager. Plus, new agreements with Kalex to develop a swingarm and Akrapovič to supply exhaust systems show they're determined to return to the top of the sport they dominated not too long ago.

It all comes in the wake of a winless campaign that saw them slump to the bottom of the Constructors' Championship. Their struggles were brought into stark reality at the German Grand Prix when they failed to register a single Championship point from a Grand Prix weekend since the sport switched over to four-stroke engines. That piece of 40-year-old, unwanted history forced them into hitting the reset button.

As a result, former Suzuki, Honda and Ducati team boss Livio Suppo believes there can simply be "no excuses" when it comes to the famous factory in 2023. Boasting arguably the strongest factory line-up on the premier class grid, consisting of nine World Championships and 65 premier class victories, means Suppo is adamant Honda "cannot blame the riders" if they're unable to compete at the sharp end.


"Honda now has two former World Champions," started the Italian in an interview with MotoGP.com's Jack Appleyard. "A rider who won two of the last three races and Nakagami, who has proved he is far from a slow rider. They don’t have any rookies, they don’t have anyone there for other reasons. They have four good riders. Three of them are able to win races, two of them win a Championship, so they cannot blame the riders if the performance isn’t there. There are no excuses.

"Sometimes when the results don’t come it’s easy for the technicians to say 'yeah but the bike is good, look at Marc or Casey. The other riders are slipping, they’re feeling the pressure'. But, on paper, they have a very strong line-up. We all know what those riders are able to do so if they can’t do what we know they can, the bike is a problem. You can be sure that if the results don’t come, then the problem is clearly the bike."

Suppo worked closely with both Mir and Rins throughout 2022 during his one-year tenure as Suzuki Team Manager, getting a close understanding of who they are as riders and as people. As a result, the Italian has no doubts that the Spanish pair will make their switch to Honda a success if they're provided with the right tools.

Alex Rins, LCR Honda Castrol, Valencia MotoGP™ Official Test

"Both Joan and Alex only have experience with Suzuki in MotoGP," continued Suppo. "They’ve only been able to ride an inline-four engine, which riders in the paddock will tell you is easier to ride than the V4. But if they can take that out of their minds and approach the bike as a bike, I believe that will help them. It won’t be easy for sure as they have a very difficult reference inside because Marc is Marc. It’s ten years that nobody has been able to score more points than him over a season on the same bike. The last time Honda won a race without Marc was back in 2017, which is a very long time.

"They have a difficult challenge in front of them, this is obvious. But I believe both can do it. They’re both super talented and with the right approach, the right mindset, I believe they can have good seasons. It depends on the bike, of course, but I have no doubt over the talent of both Joan and Alex. If they don’t get lost, that talent will show.

"They’ve both got two-year contracts with HRC. I think that’s enough time to get used to a new configuration and enough to prove that they are fast. Every year we start from zero and everyone has the same opportunity. Even though the gap between Honda and Ducati, which is the best bike out there, is huge, I still think they can have a good season."

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