until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


‘Better long-term’ Kalex Honda is winning Mir and Marquez over

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Honda’s Friday at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans was unspectacular in terms of pure results, but proved notable in just how much mileage was put on the MotoGP chassis it has commissioned from German manufacturer Kalex.

Though that chassis had already made a tentatively positive public debut in the Jerez test earlier this month, rider Joan Mir suggested at the time that it would probably not be ready to compete at Le Mans.

But with Marc Marquez having skipped the test, both he and Mir were instructed to do back-to-back comparisons between the Kalex version and the Honda-built options through Friday practice.


And the sessions by themselves suggested the Kalex chassis impressed. Had it proven a non-starter or not ready for competition, it would’ve been put on the back burner for further development after first practice. Instead, Marquez and Mir both used it in second practice.

They both admittedly crashed it, but Marquez – making his return after a lengthy absence with a fractured hand – bagged an automatic Q2 spot.

“I’m very happy. I’m very happy about the day,” was Marquez’s summary.

“I’m happy for me, for myself – not happy for the team because still we need to work, not happy for the team because [there are] no more Hondas inside [the top 10] but happy because they did a very good job today, we did a very good day.

“It’s true that we tried both chassis, also was not easy, busy day. Because every time I went out on track it was a different bike, different chassis, different riding style, different way to approach the corner. This makes life more difficult – but it was the time to do it. And it was positive.

“Now we need to analyse a few things, but tomorrow maybe we will keep going on that way of the Kalex chassis, to try to understand this different philosophy. Because it’s some negative points, some positive. But [we will] try to absorb those negative points to be even faster. Saying that, still we are far from the top guys.”

Marquez had two crashes during the day – one on the standard Honda version, one on the Kalex. He said the former fall was conditioned by the use of an unfavoured medium front tyre that he’s happy to be rid of for the rest of the weekend, while the rest he believed was just normal MotoGP risk-taking to ensure a Q2 spot.


Team-mate Mir was an encouraging sixth in first practice but dropped to 18th in the second session, failing to improve his time.

He had felt “more comfortable” and “a bit better” initially with the Kalex version but was disappointed by a “not normal” drop-off in the afternoon, which also featured a crash.

Despite this, Mir – who had suggested after Jerez that the Kalex chassis gives “more feedback from the wheels” – intends to persevere with the commissioned product through the Le Mans weekend. And while he would not be drawn on the exact positives and negatives of the chassis, he said he feels he can perform “in a better way long-term” using it.

Marquez, for his part, was keen to emphasise that despite the encouraging debut the Kalex version was not a panacea.


Asked whether the Kalex was the big step Honda had been waiting for, Marquez chuckled: “It’s another step in some areas, in this circuit. But we need more steps. It’s not the only step we need. We need more steps.

“Still we are losing too much, we are [pushing] too much on the brakes, because we are losing in the acceleration and on the straight. So we are a lot on the brakes, for that reason we are pushing a lot the front, for that reason all the Hondas we are crashing too many times.

“But…OK, this is the way, to keep going. And I’m a rider that I will keep pushing, to try to understand the way for the future.”

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