Bradl to replace Rins, Lecuona in for Mir at Dutch MotoGP

Joan Mir will be replaced at this weekend's MotoGP Dutch TT by Iker Lecuona in the Repsol Honda Team. Marc Marquez also returns after missing Germany.

Stefan Bradl, 2023 MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix. - Gold and Goose

Stefan Bradl will replace Alex Rins in the LCR Honda team for this weekend’s MotoGP Dutch TT.

Bradl will make his third MotoGP race appearance of the season in Assen this weekend aboard the satellite Honda RC213V of the LCR squad, as Alex Rins continues to recover from the broken tibia and fibula he suffered in the MotoGP Sprint at the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello earlier this month. The previous two appearances for Bradl came in place of Marc Marquez at the Grand Prix of the Americas (where Rins, of course, took victory, coincidentally), and as a wildcard for HRC at the Spanish Grand Prix.

It will not be a case of unfamiliar surroundings for Bradl, who rode for the LCR Honda team for three seasons, from 2012 until 2014. Those three seasons were highlighted by a pole position at Laguna Seca in the 2013 US Grand Prix, which preceded the German rider’s solitary premier class podium finish.

Repeating such a silverware-winning performance this weekend is both unlikely and unexpected for Bradl, who has spent much of his time since 2020 filling in for the Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez. The German rider has become Honda’s ‘safe pair of hands’ in recent years, as the Japanese manufacturer’s MotoGP bike has become increasingly difficult to ride, which has been evidenced this year by the sheer number of crashes for HRC riders, and the amount of injuries they have sustained.

In a way, Bradl’s replacement of Alex Rins, and not Joan Mir, is of some surprise, since Bradl is HRC’s official test rider and Mir’s seat lies in the factory team. However, it makes sense for two reasons.

Firstly, Repsol is a Spanish company and has historically preferred to have the factory Honda team it sponsors filled with two Spanish riders; Stefan Bradl is German, while Iker Lecuona, who is replacing Joan Mir, is Spanish. 

Secondly, Joan Mir’s hand injury is likely to take less time to heal than Alex Rins’ double leg fracture, and, since Bradl’s official duties amount to testing and commentary - the latter being something which HRC has demonstrated on numerous occasions in the past three-and-a-half years that it can pull him away from as and when it needs to - whereas the aforementioned Lecuona has WorldSBK duties to fulfil for HRC.

So, while Bradl is essentially free to replace Rins for as long as may be needed, Lecuona’s ability to do so is limited by the four WorldSBK-MotoGP calendar clashes that are (officially, at time of writing, 21 June 2023) coming up later in the season:

  • 8-10 September - San Marino MotoGP, French WorldSBK
  • 22-24 September - Indian MotoGP, Aragon WorldSBK
  • 29 September-1 October - Japanese MotoGP, Portuguese WorldSBK
  • 13-15 October - Indonesian MotoGP, Argentinian WorldSBK

HRC now needs to hope that Bradl, too, does not get injured riding its RC213V, which has so far injured three of its four full-time riders in the seven completed rounds of 2023 so far, including twice each for Mir (Argentina, Italy) and Marc Marquez (Portugal, Germany).

This article was originally published on 20 June 2023, and was updated with the above text on 21 June 2023. The original article can be read below.

The Repsol Honda Team has announced that Joan Mir will be replaced this weekend by Iker Lecuona at the upcoming MotoGP Dutch TT.

Joan Mir picked up injuries in the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month, and was on the sidelines in both Mugello and last weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.

Mir’s latest injury problems come after he was forced to miss the Argentinian Grand Prix after falling in the MotoGP Sprint at Termas de Rio Hondo the day before the full-length race.

As for Lecuona, this weekend’s Dutch TT will be the second time he has raced at Assen this season, after a difficult WorldSBK outing there back in April, when he crashed out of both long races, and finished only 11th in the Superpole Race.

It will also be Lecuona’s second outing for the Repsol Honda Team in MotoGP this year, after he filled in for Marc Marquez at his home round at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez. On that occasion, Lecuona finished 16th in the Grand Prix, and 18th in the Sprint, after qualifying slowest of the 23 qualifying riders that weekend.

On the announcement of his fill-in ride for Joan Mir this weekend in the Netherlands, Iker Lecuona said: “First of all I want to wish Joan all the best in his recovery. I am excited to join the team again, it’s a true honour. 

“Assen is a circuit I like, I got my first WorldSBK podium there so hopefully we can have another good weekend like in Jerez. I am still recovering a bit after the crash in Misano, so this will be a good physical test too. Let’s ride!”

Lecuona will partner Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda Team this weekend, as the eight-times World Champion will make his return to action after missing Sunday’s German Grand Prix following a warm-up crash which left him with a fractured finger, even though he was declared ‘fit’ following that Sunday morning high-side. 

Marquez will return to Assen, where he last won in 2018, and to a circuit which rewards a balance of stability and agility. A motorcycle which is too stable will struggle in Assen’s many direction changes and therefore be slow, but a motorcycle which is too agile and too unstable will present its rider with different, and perhaps more dangerous, challenges.

Ahead of the weekend, Marquez said: “I arrive in Assen looking to put the hard weekend in Germany behind me. We have one more race before the summer break and the objective is to gather a lot of good data for the engineers so they can work over these next weeks. This is the focus for the weekend, we need to remain calm and approach the weekend with a clear plan.”

Assen will host the 2023 MotoGP World Championship’s eighth round this weekend, and the final race before the summer break. Iker Lecuona will be hoping to get through the weekend cleanly, primarily, because he is back on WorldSBK duties next weekend at the UK round in Donington. 

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