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“Honda would have fired Pol Espargaro for outrageous MotoGP statements”

Ex-HRC boss Livio Suppo slams Pol Espargaro for comments he made about Honda's lack of MotoGP direction and suggests Alberto Puig should be dropped

Pol Espargaro, Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda 2021


Ex-HRC boss Livio Suppo has launched a pointed attack at the structure of his former Honda MotoGP team, suggesting Alberto Puig would have been sacked from his role by now if this was football, while Honda in the past wouldn’t have allowed Pol Espargaro to make certain statements regarding development.

Suppo headed up Honda until 2018 and steered it through its most successful spell in MotoGP with the multiple race-winning combination of Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.

Since then the reins have been assumed by Alberto Puig, though Suppo - who flirted with the idea of returning to MotoGP with Suzuki this year - has been candid about his successor’s modest results since.

Indeed, though Honda went on to win the 2019 MotoGP title at a canter with Marquez, his injury coupled with a loss of direction on development - increasingly credited with Pedrosa’s exit and too greater focus on Marquez’s particular needs - led to a dismal 2020 season.

While Honda has bounced back with a race win in 2021, the quartet of Marquez, new signing Espargaro and LCR riders Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez have generally struggled to make much of an impression.

It is a situation Suppo comments on in an interview with Speedweek, in which he says the team has made a mistake in focusing on Marquez too readily. 

Moreover, Suppo believes Honda doesn’t need to fine-tune the RC213V so much to Marquez because his sheer talent on a balanced bike others could ride would be sufficient for him to come out on top.

“In football there would have been personnel changes at the top of the club. Not now, because Marc won, but before. 

“Dani Pedrosa already had problems with the motorcycle in 2017 and 2018. That was a signal that development is only going in the direction that Marc can cope with. I also experienced that at Ducati with Casey Stoner. 

“It was a similar situation and I know very well that when things are not going in the right direction, even a champion will have problems. "

“A balanced machine would have been an advantage for Marc. He caught a lot with his talent.”

Suppo slams ‘outrageous’ Pol Espargaro for MotoGP comments

While Puig doesn’t escape the ire of Suppo’s opinion, it was Pol Espargaro who gets the biggest shaming from the former HRC boss.

Following the Spanish MotoGP, Espargaro let slip that Honda was trialling different packages in an effort to find a direction, the former KTM rider commenting: "I'm just an employee and I'm going to do what they want me to try, different packages… and let's see which one was better." (CLICK HERE for full article)

They are words that shocked Suppo, who says company founder Sochiro Honda - who passed away in 1991 - would have fired Espargaro on the spot for such comments.

“I think that's outrageous. I think founder Soichiro Honda would have fired him for making such a statement. But that says a lot about the situation. It's not the first time he's said something strange. "

Heading into the second half of the 2021 MotoGP season, Marquez is the highest-placed Honda rider in 10th with Nakagami 11th, Espargaro 12th and Alex Marquez 15th.

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