until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Honda's shock 'Repsol Light' livery fits muted new era

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

In recent years, every Repsol Honda MotoGP launch would be a 'bike reveal' in the same way that closing your eyes on the sofa and immediately opening them again is a 'living room reveal'.

Every single soul in attendance or watching digitally knew what the paint job would be, with sometimes only the slightest of year-on-year modifications and sometimes no modifications at all.

But 2024 is no ordinary year for Honda's rebuilding factory outfit.

This year, its arch-rival KTM formally has taken its spot as the brand that has a livery and sticks to it. The day after KTM's launch, Honda showed off a colour scheme that can only be described as a radical departure.

The familiar orange, white and red of Spanish oil company Repsol is still there, of course, but it has been relegated to effectively the lower third of the side fairing, no longer dictating most of the paint job.

Instead, the livery is something of a Repsol-tinged interpolation on Honda's usual Honda Racing Corporation blue-and-red livery that you could see in the Suzuka 8 Hours, the World Superbike championship and Stefan Bradl's MotoGP wildcards as Honda test rider.

It all makes for an extremely busy though arguably not inelegant combination, one made perhaps slightly less busier by the lack of Red Bull presence. Red Bull had been a persistent fixture on Repsol Hondas since 2015, but is no longer there.

This departure is symbolically appropriate for the first year of Honda's post-Marc Marquez era. The disillusioned six-time champion left the brand three years into a four-year deal amid marked recent underperformance by Honda RC213Vs, its MotoGP bike left behind by rivals in terms of engine performance and aerodynamic devices.

The new RC213V that Marquez gave up his right to ride in 2024 is seemingly an improvement - lighter, more compliant and, most importantly, by all accounts faster. But it is not yet a bike to fight for the championship with.

Honda - with new signing Luca Marini, the still-young 2020 champion Joan Mir, seemingly a much closer cooperation with the satellite LCR team and new concession status that allows it unrestricted engine development and race rider testing, has now plunged into a rebuild that had been unavailable to it while its generational superstar Marquez remained on the payroll, his talent and his age demanding Honda to win now.

Of course, the new livery isn't necessarily intended to symbolise any of that. Marquez's exit carries tangible practical knock-ons for the team's existing agreements.

It was reported by Spanish Motorsport.com that Repsol's reduced presence is tied in with a reportedly reduced financial contribution post-Marquez - and that this title sponsorship deal is up for renewal anyway, which the scaling-down of the aforementioned Repsol presence can't help but cast doubt on.

And, of course, the removal of Red Bull branding - which has effectively migrated to the Tech3 Gas Gas bikes of Augusto Fernandez and 'next Marquez' Pedro Acosta - has created its particular knock-ons, too.

But whatever the causes, it's thematically appropriate.

The Honda MotoGP 2024 is not the Honda of yesterday, nor the Honda of its better years in the MotoGP era.

Or, at least, it can't be if it is to succeed again.

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