until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Honda MotoGP strength Marquez used to exploit now 'completely lost'

by Valentin Khorounzhiy, Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Honda's new MotoGP bike has "completely lost" the big strength that made even the fading previous version of the RC213V at least occasionally potent.

Such is the verdict of rider Joan Mir, who struggled mightily with the previous iteration of the Honda last year but sounds increasingly convinced this year's heavily-redesigned edition is, for now at least, a competitive step backwards.

The 2024 RC213V prototype received consistent praise from its riders during the three major off-season tests, and gave a reasonable account of itself in the Qatar season opener - but flopped horribly at Portimao and the Circuit of the Americas, two tracks where it was expected to kick on.

And this appears to be because - as several riders indicated coming out of COTA and reiterated again in the lead-up to the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez - the new bike has improved upon its predecessor's weaknesses but has turned that predecessor's strengths into the new problem areas.

"Compared to last year, all the engineers built a new bike with all the reference of last year, with all the comments of the riders of last year, trying to find a better performance, especially on top speed and acceleration, which were the worst points of the bike from last year," said newcomer Luca Marini.

Joan Mir and Luca Marini, Honda, MotoGP

"But now we are missing so much in the middle of the corners. Entry, middle and the first part of the exit, we are losing so much time.

"We've gained something - in acceleration, in top speed, in braking - but what we're losing is too much.

"So I think that now, from the beginning of the season, from winter testing, we are working in the correct direction to find again this good [corner] entry that Honda had every year as its strongest point."

"The last two races, you can't imagine how difficult the turning was," added LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami.

Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda, MotoGP

"There's many reasons but we can't point the finger that 'this is the problem'. Maybe because of the lack of the rear grip, maybe bike balance, or maybe the front geometry. Too many things."

And Mir specifically pointed out that the lost corner entry advantage was something Marc Marquez - who left Honda after 11 seasons together to ride a year-old Ducati for Gresini - exploited forcefully.

"Probably now it's the weakest point that we have at the moment. And we [still] don't have the grip," said Mir.

"This advantage that we had last year on that phase of turning, that Marc was very good at, on that braking - now you don't have it, in this bike.

"We lost completely that. We lost it in the Sepang test [already] - but it's getting worse."

Marquez, a veritable Honda icon and someone who has spoken of his desire to reunite with the manufacturer down the line, is a free agent in 2025 - but the new RC213V's brutal teething troubles mean any attempt to bring him back into the fold in the short-term is probably a non-starter.

Barcelona test 'not positive'

Joan Mir, Honda, MotoGP

As part of Honda's 'Rank D' concession status, it is allowed to test with its race riders outside of the designated collective tests. Honda did just that a week ago in Barcelona, giving Joan Mir and Luca Marini development items to try.

And Mir in particular was left unimpressed.

"Pffff, was not positive, honestly," he said.

"We tried a couple of things that weren't the direction that we require.

"It probably was important in terms of, that they [the engineers] know now exactly the direction that they want to take, that we have to take to make the next step. And...now we are on that process."

Mir elaborated that what was tested was "a different bike" - though not a different engine. "The concept was the same, and I didn't make a lot of laps, let's say," he said.

He expected to run "a first idea about what we want to do" in the collective post-Spanish GP test day at Jerez.

"But it will not be the definitive step. We need to work a little bit more."

"The concept of this bike is not the right one at the moment," he added. "I cannot speak really deep about it... I want to, but I can't.

"It's a big concept of the bike that we have to change."

Honda prototype Jerez

What Honda's full-timers get to trial in the above-mentioned Jerez test day should logically overlap substantially with the RC213V prototype test rider Stefan Bradl is racing in the Spanish GP as a wildcard.

The Honda Racing Corporation-liveried bike caught the eye in opening practice on Friday morning, thanks to considerable revisions to the aero layout and the seat unit.

But unless Mir was somehow unaware of this spec, it certainly does not sound like he expects it to be a cure-all.

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