«Reasonable» to expect summer break form boost in MotoGP 2024

The Japanese manufacturer has been undertaking a top-to-bottom revamp of its MotoGP operations following a continuous decline in results over the last few years and the loss of star rider Marc Marquez to Gresini Ducati.

While there was significant optimism within the Honda camp over the winter as it went about changing its philosophy and culture, the opening two rounds of the year in Qatar and Portugal last month highlighted the scale of the challenge it still faces to close the gap to the top.

Not only the RC213V struggled over a single lap, with all four riders failing to break into Q2, but the bike wasn’t much better in race trim, with 12th place the best Honda could manage across Losail and Portimao.

Honda team manager Alberto Puig admitted that the Japanese marque is not where it would like to be in the pecking order, but vowed to put in all efforts in order to complete its recovery to the front of the pack.

“We are in a process of development,” said Puig. “We believe we are making progress but, at the same time, we believe the other guys have also made some progress. 

“We didn’t catch up as much as we expected, for now, but the only thing we know is that we are on a mission [and] our intention is clear. 

“Okay, it’s not really easy but we are putting in a lot of resources [and] we are having a lot of manpower that is adding to the project. 

“And the riders, even though they are not 100% satisfied still with the performance, they can see that we are trying our best effort. [We are] not there yet clearly because what you see on the [starting] grid you can understand [we are far from the front]. 

Alberto Puig, Repsol Honda Team Team Principal

Alberto Puig, Repsol Honda Team Team Principal

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“But it’s a process. Of course, we push to be much more in front this time but things are the way they are and we can only keep on trying. 

“We are trying to find more rear contact [grip], both entry and exit and we are working on it. We made some steps lately. But we need more, clearly.” 

Honda is one of the two manufacturers that will benefit from MotoGP’s new system of concession in 2024, allowing it unlimited testing with race riders over the course of the year — as well as giving it more freedom with chassis and engine development.

Honda revealed at the start of the year that it is aiming to organise 22 private tests this year in order to test new parts and bring them on the race-spec bike as quickly as possible.

With rules easing its recovery path, and plenty of resources at its disposal, Puig reckons Honda will be able to make a major leap in performance in the second part of the campaign, which begins with the British Grand Prix on 4 August.

“We are on a mission and we have targets and you know Honda also very well,” he said. “We will not stop till we will get there. 

“I think with the concessions and all these programmes we have, I think by maybe the summer time we [can] make some steps. 

“Let’s hope that the second part of the season — after Misano, we will also test there — we can see some bigger steps or some clear improvements. 

“This is our hope and something that is reasonable to think. This is what I think and [what] our expectations [are].”

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