The Misano MotoGP test could be the final opportunity for Honda to convince Marc Marquez to remain with the Japanese manufacturer amid growing talk he will join Gresini Ducati for the 2024 MotoGP season.
The post-San Marino MotoGP test is often seen as the chance for manufacturers to begin preparations for 2024 with a host of upgrades intended to steer their development programme over the coming months.
Of the five firms, however, most eyes are on Honda as it battles valiantly to find a way with the troublesome RC213V, a machine that has declined sharply in competitiveness since Marquez swept to his sixth MotoGP title with the manufacturer in 2019.
With this in mind, Honda has brought a host of updates for Marquez, Takaaki Nakagami, Joan Mir and Stefan Bradl to sample at the Rimini venue, with Marquez himself describing it as a ‘new chassis with new geometry’.
The test is seen as an opportunity for Honda to make a final pitch to convince Marquez to stay, despite strong talk he has already signed a deal with Gresini Ducati to race alongside his brother Alex.
Indeed, the rhetoric coming from Marquez wasn’t terribly positive, the Spaniard seeming unmoved after first impressions.
“We tried the new prototype for the first time on track, very different, riding position and feeling but in the end the problems are the same ones, the performance is the same so we need to keep working for the future.
“The improvement is not enough, it needs some change. We can’t say it is an improvement because the lap times are similar and what I evaluate is the performance on the track. I see new faces, new people, new engineers… let’s see, we need some time.”
When pressed over his future, Marquez responded ‘I can’t make a decision today, I need time’, which is at odds with a pre-event interview with DAZN in which he stated he knew where he was riding next year.
Should Marquez indeed leave Honda to join Ducati, it will end a lengthy tenure with the Japanese firm stretching back to 2013 when he famously won the first of his six titles in his rookie campaign.