Last Wednesday, Honda announced that it had reached a mutual agreement with Marquez to part ways at the end of the 2023 season, one year earlier than the eight-time world champion’s contract stipulated.
Marquez has spent 11 years of his life with Honda, winning all six of his MotoGP world titles, 59 grands prix victories and 101 podiums.
Though yet to be confirmed, Marquez will move to Gresini to race a year-old Ducati next season.
As Motorsport.com has learned, current RNF Aprilia and former KTM rider Oliveira has emerged as the favourite to replace him.
First, Oliveira will have to negotiate an exit agreement with Aprilia for 2024, having signed a two-year deal to join RNF from this season.
Though Aprilia pays his salary, there is an escape clause in Oliveira’s contract that stipulates that he can leave should a factory team offer him a seat.
This precedent has already been seen in 2023, after Alex Rins – who was signed to Honda to race for LCR for two years – elected midway through this year to join Yamaha for 2024.
Miguel Oliveira, RNF MotoGP Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Oliveira, 28, is seen as the most attractive option by HRC due to his experience in MotoGP, and particularly on two of the leading European bikes in the KTM and Aprilia.
From the commercial side, Honda’s backing from Repsol makes Oliveira attractive, as it has commercial interests in his native Portugal.
Naturally, while Oliveira will likely be compensated much greater than at Aprilia, he may be reluctant to give up a winning package in the RS-GP for one which has forced the best rider on the grid to leave Honda.
Oliveira would partner Joan Mir at the factory Honda squad if his move were to come off, while LCR already has Takaaki Nakagami and Johann Zarco signed up for 2024.
It is unclear at this stage who Aprilia and RNF have lined up to replace Oliveira should he ultimately elect to take Marquez’s seat at Honda next year.