until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Honda announces 'off-sequence' MotoGP contract for Marini

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Honda has officially named its replacement for six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, picking out Luca Marini from the VR46 Ducati squad.

Marini joining Honda in place of the Gresini Ducati-bound Marquez has recently been seen in the paddock as a foregone conclusion, and rose to an even higher level of certainty when the VR46 team owned by his brother Valentino Rossi announced last weekend that he would not be staying there for 2024.

Crucially, however, Honda's announcement has now rubber-stamped an important detail about Marini's contract.

The 26-year-old will be contracted to Honda in not just 2024 but 2025 as well.

Offering a two-year deal to Marini - the suggestion being that both years stipulate a place at the factory team specifically - goes counter to what was thought to be the biggest hurdle Honda had been facing in its search for a Marquez replacement.

It was widely reported - and in fact confirmed by target Miguel Oliveira - that Honda was only keen on a one-year deal, in order to keep its options open for 2025.

This is because the overwhelming majority of factory contracts in MotoGP expire at the end of 2024, as per the established informal two-year factory deal cycle in the championship.

Honda was limited in its free agent options for 2024 but will be able to make its pitch to nearly all of the top names - including, potentially, its departing champion Marquez - for the following year without having to worry about the complications of extricating them from existing contracts.

But Marini's two-year commitment means team-mate Joan Mir - whose horrid first season on the Honda RC213V ended early with injury in Valencia practice - will now be alone within the factory line-up in entering a contract year.

Marini is due to make his debut on the RC213V in Tuesday's post-season test.

Late-season form man Fabio Di Giannantonio is thought to be the overwhelming favourite to take his vacated VR46 ride.

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