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LCR not ready to ‘give up’ on Marquez amid Miller link

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

LCR Honda MotoGP team boss Lucio Cecchinello has denied reports that his team is in talks with former rider Jack Miller to potentially replace Alex Marquez for 2023.

He admits only that the Australian might be one candidate – but that the first priority is to complete the team’s planned four-year strategy with the Moto2 and Moto3 world champion Marquez.

Miller’s return to LCR has been speculated by some in the MotoGP paddock as it looks increasingly likely that he will be replaced at the factory Ducati squad next season by rookie race winner Jorge Martin. On Saturday, Motorsport.com Spain reported that the Aussie was indeed in talks with LCR.

It may seem like an obvious choice for the team given both Miller’s status as a former LCR rider and as a 2021 double race winner – but any return depends foremost on whether the team decides to renew the contract of the under-performing Marquez.

While not denying the speculation suggesting that Miller might be a potential target when asked by The Race at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, team principal Cecchinello was nonetheless adamant that priority number one for both him and technical partner Honda is to try and find a way to improve Marquez’s results before the key decision time in June.


“I honestly don’t know about it,” he said of the Miller rumours. “Honestly, we are definitely concentrating on accomplishing our targets, which was making a four-year programme with Alex Marquez, two plus two.

“Of course, the decision to continue with Alex depends on the performance, and I don’t hide that we are under our targets.

“I don’t want to say that that is only the fault of Alex, because our bike of last year wasn’t really competitive and Alex also changed crew chief from Repsol to LCR. Maybe we couldn’t make the best. This year we started with a new bike, with increased technical organisation, and we expected better results from the beginning of the season.

“But the truth is also that we haven’t yet been able to extract all the potential from the new bike, and perhaps there is something that we need to figure out yet in terms of geometry. We have a very good performance on the rear, very good grip, acceleration and drive, but for some reason now the rider complains about the lack of front feeling. We need to definitely understand what is the best for Alex, and I think before we say we give up with our clear plan we want to wait for more races to see if we can make it or not.”

However, while he stresses that his first priority might be to retain the series’ younger Marquez brother, he also admits that his mediocre results to date this year need to improve if LCR is going to retain his services.


“I would be very happy to continue,” Cecchinello added, “because Alex is very nice, a two-time world champion and a good rider. If for some reason we continue to have difficulties to perform in the top 10 and making some highlights in the top five, then we will analyse the reasons and together with Honda we will take a decision.”

Marquez has been bought some extra time on the decision being made, though, by what his current team boss admits is a rather slower-than-expected start to the silly season. So far, only a handful of top racers have secured their futures – and as a result, there’s still time for the Spaniard to prove himself to team and manufacturer.

“Honestly, I thought the 2023 and 2024 rider market would have started earlier,” he said, “but it is a little bit calm at the moment. [Fabio] Quartararo still hasn’t decided his future, Yamaha haven’t moved, and OK Ducati is the sole manufacturer that has a direction but they haven’t made any announcement yet.

“I believe that the market will start to move on in a couple of weeks, and perhaps by the middle or end of June it’ll be closed.”

Should things not improve for Marquez in the interim and should Miller as expected be pushed out of the factory Ducati team, one thing is clear – that Cecchinello isn’t opposed to taking back the Australian who made his MotoGP debut with the outfit back in 2015.

“Jack is a fast rider, definitely a strong rider, and we worked quite well with him,” he told The Race. “But our full focus now is to give all the opportunities to Alex, and we don’t want to lose our focus and our mind on other solutions. When we set up a plan we really want to go until the end, so my best scenario is to have two more years with Alex.”

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