Copying Ducati «not the way» to improve Honda MotoGP bike

Marini has joined the factory Honda team to replace six-time champion Marc Marquez, having previously spent three seasons on Ducati machinery with first Avintia and then VR46.

The Italian’s experience on what is now the dominant bike on the grid is invaluable to Honda, as the Japanese manufacturer aims to steady the ship after a turbulent period and become a consistent challenger for victories and championships again.

But Marini believes the philosophy of each bike on the MotoGP grid is so different that Honda cannot take full advantage of his knowledge of the Ducati Desmosedici and apply those lessons to the RC213V.

«I think the DNA of every bike must [remain] the same and [each bike must] use its strong points,» the 26-year-old said.

«I think the Honda has very good points. We need to work on it and not transform the bike in a Ducati because this is not the correct way.»

Marini has particularly struggled to get the best out of the rear tyre since his switch to Honda over the winter, a problem that is exacerbated when he is on fresh tyres.

This is one area he feels he and Honda must work on, as they ramp up their preparations for the 2024 season.

«It was really easy to do the time attack [on a Ducati] because you just need to push more in braking and the bike stops better because the rear tyre is new and it helps you a lot to stop the bike in braking,» he explained.

«So Ducati uses the rear tyre better compared to Honda.

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

«So we have to improve in that area, because with a new tyre you want to try a little bit to brake later but it’s difficult then. I struggle to stop the bike.

«For me, this is the most difficult part. In the last part of the entry the turning is missing for me, on my setting at this moment so we need to improve and work on this area.»

Marini ended up 19th on the timesheets with a best effort of 1m58.008s, about seven tenths down on the lap set by Joan Mir on the sister works Honda.

Marini is one of the two riders making the switch to RC213V from Ducati this year along with new LCR signing Johann Zarco, who previously raced for Pramac.

The Frenchman was fractionally quicker than Marini on a single lap, ending up 17th in the final classification.

Marini feels Zarco has adapted faster to the Honda faster him, saying: «It’s clear that he knows very well the bike can now push with new tyres with the Honda.

«I struggled a little bit this [Thursday] morning when I tried because it’s a little bit different compared to Ducati, where you need to push a lot.

«So I think there is a lot of margin to improve.»

The MotoGP field will reconvene in Qatar on 19-20 February for a second and final test, before the same Losail venue hosts the opening round of the season in March.

Marini sees the Qatar test as a good opportunity for Honda to try out new parts and extract more performance from its 2024 prototype.

«We are just starting to try something on the wheelbase of the bike, the balance of the bike in general, we are going in a good direction in general,» he said.

«I think in Qatar it would be even more interesting because we will have more parts to try.

«That test will also be more critical for the race weekend, more focused on the lap time and trying to find a little bit more pace to be competitive for the race.»

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