Mir ‘starting to see results’ of Honda’s new MotoGP approach

Once the top dog in MotoGP, Honda has slowly plummeted down the pecking order, ending the last two seasons dead last in the manufacturers’ standings.

Marc Marquez, the rider with which it built its current empire in MotoGP, broke his contract with HRC at the end of last year to switch to a satellite Ducati, while Alex Rins also left the Japanese marque after a single season to move to Yamaha.

Honda’s philosophy and conservative approach to bike development had been identified as the main reason why the RC213V is no longer competitive against the bikes of its European rivals, or even the M1 from Yamaha.

It wasn’t until the second half of last year that Honda started to overhaul its operations, with perhaps the biggest change being the appointment of Shin Sato as the new technical director to replace Shinichi Kokubu.

Asked if he could feel any difference in the way Honda operates now that is adopting a more European-style approach, Mir said: «It’s true that last year they made a lot of changes in people, changed [to] a little bit different way to do things, and we start to see the results now. So something changed there.

«They will show really if they [have made a] change if they bring something more from here to Qatar.

«But it’s true that from Misano last year when we tried the first prototype of 2024 to the bike that we tried in Valencia, they made a huge improvement. They improved the bike a lot and they changed a lot of things.

«The bike is very similar to that one in Valencia, but the engine [is updated]. So they are working hard, this I’m convinced about.»

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

Mir recorded a best time of 1m57.374s on the final day of testing to end up 10th in the reckoning, some seven tenths down on the new lap record set by last year’s champion Francesco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati.

Mir was impressed with the one-lap pace he was able to extract from his Honda RC213V, and felt he could have gone even quicker had he not crashed on his second attempt at a flying lap.

«The reality is that we have been a lot faster than last year, so we can see a step,» the Spaniard said.
«We have to be happy because we improved, but on the other hand, we are not where we want.

«I was able to make a 1m57.3s, that actually was a good lap time. And when I was trying to make a second timed lap I crashed in the last corner on the out-lap trying to open the line to close.

«Maybe I could improve the lap time a bit more. But in any case, when we pushed, the lap time was there. It’s not every day that you make 57.3s, it’s a very fast lap time.

«The thing is that the others also improved, we improved more than the others because we are closer.»

However, Mir feels Honda is still some way off the class-leading Ducatis on long-run pace, as the likes of Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini, Marc Marquez and Bagnaia were comfortably clear of the chasing pack during a 10-lap sprint simulation on Thursday.

«We made 10 laps in a row and we were able to stay also in 1m58s, which actually is not bad,» he explained.

«When I saw the lap times of Martin or Pecco, they were in the 58s low, mediums, I was in the 58 highs.

«So there is half a second in terms of pace with the hot conditions and the heat and the stuff that we need to improve, but we know we need to improve. We gave good comments. In Qatar, we will have something more.»

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