until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Shock Honda-KTM move would solve a lot of MotoGP problems

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

It’s no secret that KTM has a serious problem for the 2024 MotoGP championship as it tries to squeeze five contracted riders into four seats.

And that’s before you even consider the option of poaching a deeply unhappy Marc Marquez away from Honda.

Previous solutions have been rejected out of hand – but a new suggestion might present the best way forward for all parties, and help another team out too.

Earlier this week German-language publication Speedweek, which enjoys a close relationship with both KTM and title sponsor Red Bull and is rarely wrong when it comes to reporting news out of KTM’s Salzburg headquarters, reported that KTM had a new option for adding bikes to the 2024 grid: stealing away not just Marquez from Honda but Honda’s satellite team LCR too.

It comes after previous efforts to expand to six bikes on the grid for next year were rejected, with series promoter Dorna seemingly nixing any plan to add additional KTM machines to the grid next year by refusing to allow it the use of the two extra grid spots vacated by Suzuki, which are now reserved for a theoretical full-factory entry in the future.

But, with the current Honda RC213V basically an unmitigated disaster despite LCR rider Alex Rins’ unexpected victory at the Circuit of the Americas earlier this year, it seems that KTM (or rather, parent group Pierer Mobility Group) has come knocking on LCR’s door to attempt to renew talks that originally started back in 2019.

Former racer Lucio Cecchinello’s team had discussions with KTM about becoming its first official satellite partner back then. That deal in the end instead went to Herve Poncharal’s Tech3 outfit as Cecchinello chose to remain loyal to Honda in a relationship that began in 125cc from 1996 to 1999 and resumed for LCR’s move into MotoGP with Casey Stoner in 2006.


However, as Honda continues to struggle to produce a competitive bike, Speedweek suggests that KTM sees this as the time to restart talks, with an aim of potentially buying out the team for next season – the latest in what seems like a series of contract buyouts as people desert Honda.

KTM’s plans have even been openly hinted at by Cecchinello himself, who admitted to Italian website GPone that initial talks had started with KTM.

He pointed out he had an outgoing Honda contract, but in a way that didn’t outright deny that the KTM plan is potentially an option for LCR.

“I want to be totally honest and transparent,” he told GPone.

“About 10 days ago I received a friendly phone call from Francesco Guidotti, the KTM team manager in which he told me, in a serene and autonomous way, that from the Silverstone GP, KTM would like to begin to understand how to move forward for the future.

“They are interested in fielding another team in MotoGP, not only in function of Acosta for next year.

“He asked me what my situation was for 2024 and I replied that I signed a three-year contract with Honda that will expire at the end of next year. The phone call ended like this and we never heard from him again.

“I have a contract with Honda for 2024 and it is not my intention to break it, it is the simple truth.”

It seems increasingly likely that Rins will be announced as a factory Yamaha rider in the upcoming weeks, joining Fabio Quartararo and replacing Franco Morbidelli as Yamaha also tries to turn around some disastrous recent form.

Marquez has also hinted that his own future lies elsewhere, refusing to deny speculation that he too is trying to escape early from a Honda deal that doesn’t end, like Rins’, until the end of next season.

Marquez’s options so far have looked more limited than Rins’, with KTM believed to be interested in securing his signature only if it doesn’t have to displace either of its current factory line-up Jack Miller and Brad Binder.

Equally at satellite team Tech3 (running under the Pierer group’s Gas Gas brand), rookie Augusto Fernandez is enjoying a strong debut season, while it would be hard to dismiss KTM group returnee Pol Espargaro when he’s essentially spent the entire season sidelined due to the serious injuries he sustained at the opening round back in March.

And there’s the added complication of wunderkind Pedro Acosta, with the Spanish sensation confirming recently that KTM has promised him a promotion from Moto2 to MotoGP next year, adding further pressure to those determining the brand’s 2024 line-up.

Pedro Acosta

That’s why the option of adding two extra bikes looked so promising, with initial plans to promote dominant Moto2 and Moto3 team Ajo Motorsport to the premier class to provide a space for both Marquez and Acosta – a plan halted by Dorna’s insistence there’s no space for new satellite teams (which Dorna is contractually obliged to give substantial payments to).

But poaching another squad away from Honda and into Pierer colours (potentially not under the KTM brand but instead as a Husqvarna team) would solve that issue by not needing to create a new grid spot.

It would, of course, be a further blow to Honda – but one that would come as no real surprise or injustice given its lacklustre commitment to its satellite teams.

It’s become normal to hear complaints not just from Rins but past LCR riders like Alex Marquez and Cal Crutchlow about a perceived lack of support and promised upgrades.

That’s unlikely to be an issue for LCR if it switches to the KTM RC16, arguably already the second-best bike on the grid right now behind Ducati.

The other loser would be second LCR rider Taka Nakagami, who is very unlikely to retain his seat should KTM take over from Honda. With limited spaces elsewhere, that would probably leave him out of MotoGP for good.

It would also leave Honda – like Yamaha – represented by only two factory bikes, on a grid that by 2024 might contain six KTMs alongside eight Ducatis and four Aprilias.

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