“Honda is the easiest MotoGP bike to ride…”

Repsol Honda MotoGP boss Alberto Puig shrugs off the notion the Honda RC213V is more difficult to ride than its MotoGP rivals

Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda MotoGP

Repsol Honda team manager Alberto Puig has brushed off suggestions from within his own camp that the Honda RC213V is more difficult to ride than its rivals, pointing out four riders have won ten MotoGP titles on the machine.

The Japanese firm has largely dominated in recent years with Marc Marquez, the Spaniard completing arguably his most convincing title win yet in 2019 with 12 victories from 19 races.

Coupled to six further second place results (with just a single DNF) Marquez almost single-handedly won the teams’ title for Repsol Honda despite Jorge Lorenzo contributing just 28 points to the overall total.

However, some within the Honda fold – notably Cal Crutchlow – have decried the fact the RC213V is adjusted towards Marquez’s unique riding style, making it tricky for others to extract the maximum from it without over-stepping the limit. Crutchlow scored three podiums and finished ninth overall in 2019.

It’s an assertion Puig shrugs off though, pointing out that Honda has won ten of the last 18 MotoGP titles with four different riders – Marquez, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi – which gives it a better rate of success than any other manufacturer.

“The fact is that in the last 18 years Honda has won the MotoGP title ten times, with four different riders. Yamaha [has won the title seven times] with two riders and Ducati [once] with one rider," Puig said.

"So, with these facts, we can say that the easiest bike to ride is a Honda! Because it has won the championship with many riders - Rossi, Hayden, Marc, Casey.

"I don’t know what the other teams are saying, but we don’t care so much about this. The total performance of a team is not only about the bike or rider it's the complete, whole structure.

"So I think this [impression of Honda only winning because they have Marquez] is just an idea, but it's not a fact."

A dig at Cal Crutchlow?

Perhaps not outwardly, but Marquez’s dominance on the Honda this year suggests it is up to others in the Honda fold to really step up to the mantle to at least get closer to the Spaniard’s performance.

However, Puig’s argument slips on the notion today’s Honda RC213V is harder to the ride than those which took Stoner, Rossi and Hayden to their titles, which even Marquez has suggested is the case. However, the six-time MotoGP champion also says it isn’t his job to make the bike better for his stablemates when it’s so successful already in his hands.

Of course, Honda makes itself vulnerable if Marquez gets injured, which is a risk given he suffered the second highest number of crashes of anyone in 2019 (and was top in 2018) but has so far managed to avoid significant in-season injuries.

Instead, much could depend on the performance of Takaaki Nakagami in 2020. The Japanese rider gets hold of Marquez’s 2019 title-winning machine next season, the bike Crutchlow struggled to get the most from.

Earlier in the year Crutchlow brushed off the suggestion Nakagami deserved an upgrade to the current-spec bike because he felt anyone would prove quick on the 2018 machine his LCR team-mate was riding. Should Nakagami prove comparable to Crutchlow next year, it won’t reflect well on him.