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MotoGP

Ranking Marc Marquez’s 2024 MotoGP options

by Simon Patterson
7 min read

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It felt like an unspoken truth was finally said out loud last weekend at Assen with Repsol Honda team boss Alberto Puig suggesting that should Marc Marquez’s annus horribilis continue for much longer, the factory would be open to the idea of releasing him from his 2024 contract and allowing him to look elsewhere for a seat on next year’s MotoGP grid.

And when questioned about it only a few minutes later, Marquez didn’t deny the concept out of hand either, only admitting that three punishing race weekends in a row and a succession of injuries sustained trying to wrangle the 2023 Honda RC213V means that his first priority of MotoGP’s summer break is making a full recovery both mentally and physically before he has to face some tough decisions.

That’s absolutely not a denial that a big career change might be imminent, and means that we could be in for some shock news sooner rather than later.

But, while one potential hurdle blocking a Marquez departure might have been lifted, that creates another question: what’s the most likely alternative option for him on (or off) the grid next year? We rank them from least to most likely.

6 Taking a year out

Marc Marquez

Undoubtedly the slimmest prospect of all for 2024 is that Marquez takes a sabbatical.

Simply put, he feels like he’s already missed out on far too much of his career thanks to the Jerez 2020 injury that basically ruined three years of his racing life, and while he might not want to keep riding a Honda, it’s still better than the alternative of spending more time watching someone else ride it on TV.

The belief will be that things can’t get any worse than they are right now, and while the current machine might be a real handful, it was still good enough for Alex Rins to win on at the Circuit of the Americas earlier this year – importantly, while Marquez sat and watched on at home recovering from yet another injury.

It might take a physical toll on him to stick with Honda in 2024 and continue getting hurt, but the mental impact of watching others race without him might be something that Marquez fears even more.

5 Team-mates with Quartararo at Yamaha

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Very much the dark-horse option when it comes to switching teams for next year, it’s hard to see Marquez jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire by trading in a terrible Honda RC213V for an equally-poor Yamaha M1.

Sure, at least the Yamaha is just slow as opposed to slow and constantly firing its riders to the moon, but Marquez isn’t going to take a big team change gamble for an option that doesn’t present the chance for him to win again. It’s hard to see a world in which he teams up with 2021 MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo.

4 Racing a satellite Ducati

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The idea of Marquez riding a satellite bike seems to be an unlikely one indeed, but when the potential satellite bike is Ducati’s current all-conquering machine, then you’ve got to think that he absolutely believes he has the talent to overcome whatever hurdles there might be in stepping down to a team with less technical backing.

And while Ducati has always insisted it doesn’t need Marquez, that’s a conversation that’s always led by its factory squad, a team that doesn’t have space for him next year. But Ducati is one of the few factories that does actually have a satellite grid spot open for next year, with Gresini Racing rider Fabio Di Giannantonio believed to be on his way out of his one-year deal.

That would not just open a spot for Marquez but would mean that he would be team-mates with brother Alex at the team. Gresini is currently running 2022-spec bikes, but Ducati will offer any satellite a current model machine for an extra €1.5million or so each, money that you’d think Gresini could easily raise if it was suddenly the home of not one but two Marquez brothers.

3 Replacing someone at Aprilia

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It’s not a secret that Aprilia is disappointed with current satellite rider Raul Fernandez, who hasn’t lived up to expectations this year, nor with Maverick Vinales – who hasn’t exactly performed on the factory bike this year, a runner-up finish at the season opener aside.

Paying off one and demoting the other would probably not upset too many people.

It’s an enticing prospect, too, given the strength of Aprilia’s RS-GP in braking, an area that would absolutely play to the best of Marquez’s abilities.

It’s a move that’s never looked too realistic in the past thanks to Aprilia’s relative lack of funds versus its more established rivals. But with a 2024 Marquez deal likely to come at a bargain price and with the Spaniard perhaps willing to take less money in order to win, it could be that the planets align.

2 A switch to KTM

Marc Marquez

Now, any potential KTM talk needs to be caveated by the strong statement made at Assen by team boss Francesco Guidotti explicitly ruling out any possibility of a Marquez offer, with the Italian telling journalists that “we have tried to make you understand that Marquez is not a feasible option for us at the moment. He is not one of our riders, so we cannot talk about him for any reason”.

That needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, though, as it may have been words to pacify KTM’s current crop of racers (and future prospects like Pedro Acosta) rather than something to dissuade Marquez.

After all, the situation is that any team boss on the grid would sell their own grandmother to get Marquez’s name on a contract. He remains MotoGP’s undisputed king, and everyone will find some way to make a Marquez move happen should he truly be on the market.

The most enticing way that KTM could do that, of course, is by adding more bikes to the grid. In theory impossible because of the six-team satellite cap, that block is partly due to the considerable payments series owner Dorna makes to the teams out of its TV revenue – but if one factory could afford to add two more bikes without taking its cut of that, it’s obviously KTM.

It has said in the past that it can’t support two more bikes just yet with its current technical resources – but demoting the GasGas team to 2023-spec machinery next year would solve all of its problems in one fell swoop by creating not just space for Marquez but also for Acosta.

There’s also an obvious sponsorship crossover thanks to Marquez’s long-term relationship with Red Bull, a brand that is far more than just a financial backer of KTM. It would undoubtedly front whatever cash it would take to sign him and to run him – and maybe even shoulder the cost of buying him out of his Honda deal too.

1 Remaining at Honda

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While it’s absolutely enthralling to imagine Marc Marquez on a different bike in 2024, the most likely option is probably the simplest: the possibility that nothing changes and he remains with Honda next year.

Whether that comes to pass or not is on something of a deadline – a timeline that actually we’re pretty certain of. In September, there’ll be a post-race test at Misano where Honda is expected to bring its new-for-2024 machine and, if it’s improved enough that Marquez thinks he can use his prodigious talent to overcome any remaining weaknesses, staying will absolutely become the most realistic option.

Leaving Honda wouldn’t just involve a huge jump into the unknown, it would also mean a huge financial sacrifice, one that all-in would probably cost the six-time MotoGP champion at least €25m.

That’s a lot of cash to take a big risk, and if HRC can pull something out of the bag then we’re not going to see a switch – but there’s a big maybe attached to it.

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