Johann Zarco has responded to growing speculation he could be set for a move to Honda for the 2024 MotoGP World Championship season, saying he welcomes the interest from the manufacturer despite its current woes.
Question marks over the future of the Frenchman within the Ducati fold grew over the summer break but have particularly gathered momentum over the last few days following the confirmation that Alex Rins would be leaving LCR Honda in favour of a switch to Yamaha for 2024.
His signing means Franco Morbidelli is out of a ride for next season, with his best chances seeming to lie with Ducati if some set pieces go his way.
Indeed, the Italian would be the primary candidate to join his mentor Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Racing team alongside Luca Marini, though this hinges on whether Bezzecchi is ported into the Pramac Racing team so as to guarantee him a 2024-spec Ducati GP24 next year.
Should this happen then Zarco could find himself as the odd one out, a scenario that has seemingly triggered contact between the double Moto2 World Champion and Honda.
Though Zarco - who is still yet to win a MotoGP race - emphasises his desire to stay with Ducati, he admits the possibility of a deal with Honda is worth considering, even despite its patchy run of recent form.
"I would be proud to be this guy," he told the media during the British MotoGP weekend at Silverstone.
"It won’t be a bad challenge. If you think about victory, to be in the top position and to fight, as I’m doing now for a few years, clearly the place to be is at Ducati because it’s the best bike. We can see it on the track.
"It’s good to have the interest of Honda. Clearly it’s nice to have this kind of brand interested, even if they’re struggling. We have to think about this.
“But my target is Ducati with this winning bike and winning team, too. We’re leading the (teams’) Championship with Pramac. Jorge [Martin] and I are good together so why not continue?
"At the moment results are good enough to think about Ducati and Pramac on a factory bike.”
The rumours have been given further credence by LCR boss Lucio Cecchinello telling French media it was Zarco’s people who contacted the Monegasque team.
“I'm going to tell you the truth, we have nothing to hide. We were approached by various agents, including the one of Zarco. We were a little bit surprised, because Zarco has a very competitive bike currently. He will also offer us the possibility of working together with a project of several years and it’s an option on the table."
It remains to be seen whether Honda would be prepared to sweeten any potential deal by offering up a seat in the factory Repsol HRC squad in place of either Marc Marquez and Joan Mir.
As rumours swirl around Marquez’s future regardless, Mir could find his seat under threat following another crash - his tenth in 17 races - during the most recent British MotoGP round.