Has Repsol Honda just signed Alex Marquez for 2020 MotoGP?

Latest paddock rumours suggest Repsol Honda has chosen Alex Marquez for the 2020 MotoGP ride alongside his brother Marc Marquez

Alex Marquez, Marc Marquez

Things move quickly in MotoGP and only two days after Jorge Lorenzo revealed he will be hanging up his leathers after this weekend’s Valencia round, latest paddock rumours suggest it has already chosen Alex Marquez over Johann Zarco for the available 2020 MotoGP seat.

As it stands, Marquez, Zarco and possibly also Cal Crutchlow are seemingly in the running for the factory seat alongside Marc Marquez but while it was Zarco that topped the favourite’s list initially, the emphasis appears to be shifting to retaining the all-Spanish set-up with an all-Marquez line-up.

In a separate development, Zarco has been linked with an entirely different deal with the Avintia Ducati team, though he has flatly refused this as an option.

According to Moto Journal – a well-informed French paddock source – Marquez has become the primary target for Repsol Honda, a move that would see the Moto2 Champion bought out of his Marc VDS contract and promoted straight into the factory deal.

The reasons why Repsol Honda would sign Alex Marquez

It’s the question on everyone’s lips and while Honda is keeping its closed for the time being, it’s little surprise little drips of information pointing towards the Marquez Jnr being top of Repsol Honda’s list.

First things first, this could still go either way but with post-season testing just two days away, a team as well-oiled as Honda cannot afford to be wasting time looking for a new rider (thanks, Jorge…).

The argument for Alex Marquez is compelling for quite obvious reasons. Though Marc insists he has no influence on the choice of his team-mate (whether you believe him or not) the sheer allure of having two Marquez brothers alongside one another in the same team will make Honda – and Repsol’s - marketing team developing all sorts of promotional plans for the year ahead.

Moreover, the working relationship between the pair needs no explanation and it’s plausible to think Marc will do his utmost to ensure both he and Alex are comfortable on the notoriously tricky Honda RC213V, while Zarco could be perceived as a threat by comparison.

“It’s not in my hands and I will never force any situation,” Marc Marquez says. “This is clear. Honda will decide. Honda will decide which kind of strategy, if they will take a rider with more experience or take a young rider and give them the opportunity.

"But for me, I'm already very proud that the Moto2 world champion [Alex] is inside that list [of possible Repsol Honda riders]."

Nepotism aside, there is a less patriotic reason for such a move – simply, Honda needs a youngster coming up through its ranks. Having lost Jack Miller to Ducati and Franco Morbidelli to Yamaha, Honda has a relatively experienced (trans: ageing) rider line-up and could see it dragged into a bidding war come 2021 deal time for the fresh blood.

Indeed, while Yamaha sees its future in Fabio Quartararo and Morbidelli, Ducati has Miller and Pecco Bagnaia, Suzuki has Alex Rins and Joan Mir and KTM has a bevy of youngsters to call upon from the other classes, Honda risks being caught out.

Whisper it quietly, it’s reasonable to imagine Marquez not staying at Repsol Honda forever once he’s (potentially) achieved eight MotoGP world titles… could this be laying the foundation to keep the Marquez name going at Honda even after he has left?

Where does this leave Johann Zarco?

So close, so far… the stars appeared to be aligning for Zarco two days ago, now they seem further away.

Dorna would be keen to keep Zarco on the grid – not least because he is a double Moto2 World Champion – which may explain why a potential move to Avintia Ducati is suddenly on the cards. However, that would be on a year-old bike in a relatively minnow team, a deal that leaves Zarco cold…

"I want a good team and a good bike and for me Avintia is not a top team, so if I have to lose more myself in that place, I will manage to move to Moto2," Zarco said. "But the target is the Honda place at the moment."

An announcement is imminent – we expect something on Monday after the race… it could go either way.