MotoGP

Honda on extending Alex Marquez deal – “We have to see what he can do”

Repsol Honda boss Alberto Puig says the team will wait until the opening rounds have been completed before deciding on whether to renew Alex Marquez

Repsol Honda boss Alberto Puig says the team will wait to see how Alex Marquez performs in the opening round of the delayed 2020 MotoGP World Championship season before deciding on whether to renew him for 2021.

The reigning Moto2 World Champion steps up to the premier class in 2020 after landing the seat vacated by Jorge Lorenzo when he called time on his racing career unexpectedly at the conclusion of 2019.

The last minute nature of the deal means Marquez has had a steep learning curve in testing so far, with some off-track errors hampering him during post-season testing while his pre-season efforts were made tempered by the RC213V proving to be a handful out of the box.

As such, the younger Marquez spent much of the early running at Sepang and Qatar towards the bottom of the timesheets.

With the current protracted pause on racing scuppering any hope of building up his momentum during the early rounds, Marquez now faces some pressure to hit the ground running when racing does eventually start, most likely on July 19 at Jerez.

In an interview with GPOne.com, Puig intimates Honda won’t follow the path of Yamaha and Suzuki by confirming its 2021 MotoGP rider line-up before racing gets underway again to give them a proper chance to evaluate Marquez’s performance.

“It was not an easy start for Alex. I am sure we can give him a different bike, we already have it in mind. It will not be easy for him but when he manages to be more comfortable on the Honda he can start to demonstrate his potential.

“He has a year of contract, it seemed right to give him the opportunity. Now we are waiting to get back on track and see what he can do.”

Alex Marquez with something to prove to Honda

The lengthy delay to proceedings is a particular problem for a rider like Alex Marquez.

The Spaniard was already coming into the season with pressure on his shoulders, both because he has stepped into a title-winning team and, somewhat unfortunately, he has ‘that’ surname.

It’s hard to read into pre-season testing but there were days when Marquez seemed all at sea and at no point looked like he was going to break into the top 15. In his defence, he is starting from standstill in MotoGP and Honda didn’t help matters by turning up with a new bike that even in Marc Marquez’s hands was temperamental.

The long break will affect him more than most and he’d be forgiven for keeping his expectations modest during the early rounds, but it’s during these events that Honda will need to come to a decision on whether to retain him for 2021.

On the flip side, Honda has faith in Marquez and wants to nurture him. Provided it can see a glimpse of that off track as well as on it, he remains in pole position to keep that ride for another year at least.

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