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Analysis

Why Honda MotoGP team wouldn't block Marc Marquez's exit

Recent precedents, and the senselessness of prolonging a situation that would be detrimental to both Marc Marquez and Honda, lead us to believe that the Japanese company would not block the rider's departure one year before the end of his MotoGP contract.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Although the Spaniard has recently been speaking about his intention, or rather hope, to reveal where he will race in 2024 during this weekend's grand prix at Motegi, there is no certainty that by the end of the race on Sunday he will have been able to resolve the dispute he created for himself by wanting to leave Honda one season before the contract he signed at the beginning of 2020 expires.

Marquez landed in Japan on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to attend an event at Honda's engineering school in Tokyo. Given his sporting situation, one of his main objectives is to sit down with the manufacturer's executives, with whom he hopes to be able to agree on an amicable parting of ways.

That meeting will most likely not take place until the weekend at Motegi, where the top brass of Honda Motor, the parent company, is expected to be present. That top brass, led by Shiniji Aoyama - the two-wheeled division's most senior boss - will be at the circuit. Koji Watanabe, the president of Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) - the constructor's racing arm - has always maintained that Honda would not prevent Marquez from leaving if that is what he wants.

"Obviously we would like him to continue. But, in the end, it's up to him to decide. If he wants to leave we won't hold him back," Watanabe said in recent media appearances.

Some say that Honda is unlikely to allow the rider who has won its last six MotoGP titles, and who has been its main attraction for the past decade, to be released without having to meet the cancellation clauses stipulated in the agreement between the two parties. However, unlike in other sports such as football, precedent suggests otherwise.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

A slightly similar situation to the one that Marquez is now experiencing was that of Jorge Lorenzo, who retired at the end of 2019 and quit despite having a year of his contract, also with Honda, left to run. That negotiation was personally led by Albert Valera, the Spaniard's representative.

"Honda was always very understanding of Jorge's situation and they didn't put any obstacles in the way, because that wouldn't have benefited anyone," Valera explained to Motorsport.com. With Lorenzo absent from the circuits, Valera now focuses on defending the interests of Jorge Martin, Aleix Espargaro and Pedro Acosta, among others.

In fact, a source close to the recent talks between Honda and its riders, tells Motorsport.com that the company has already promised to let him go, provided he communicates it with enough time. That leads us to think that it could even be that it has all been agreed already.

"Honda is not interested in keeping someone like Marc, who has already made it clear that he doesn't want to race that bike. It doesn't make sense to pay him for the remaining year of his contract - more than 15 million euros - and for all the media coverage to be negative," the source says.

Another source familiar with the idiosyncrasies of Japanese companies very well - having worked for years with two of the biggest companies in MotoGP - shares the same opinion.

"At this level, when a rider of Marc's relevance wants to leave a brand like Honda, money is not usually an impediment. That is to say, what I would do if I were him is sit down with the Honda bosses and explain the situation and my desire to leave, because this tandem has reached the end of the road", says this authoritative source, who adds: "Marquez has spent years trying to make the project work, with a bike that has hurt him, and I don't think Honda will force him to stay or penalise him for not doing so."

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

To date, both Nadia Padovani - the Gresini team manager - and Michele Masini and Carlo Merlini - the sporting and commercial directors respectively - have said absolutely nothing about who will partner Alex Marquez in 2024. Ducati has also kept a very neutral profile when asked about the possibility of the elder Marquez riding one of its Desmosedicis. But at the Buddh circuit, Paolo Ciabatti revealed that the Faenza-based team was hoping to get an answer from Marquez in a few days.

Marquez and Gresini agree on everything, although the Italian team and Ducati would like to secure him for two years, while the rider prefers to commit to just one (2024), to be completely free for 2025, when several of the most important names in the world championship end their ties with their respective teams.

This will leave a number of very appealing rides available. Otherwise, if we are to believe Ducati's statement, we must assume that the Lleida-born rider would have to face next year with a 2023-spec Desmosedici, the same with which Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin are fighting for the lead in the overall standings, with only 13 points separating them.

Pending confirmation of such a move, one might see it as a step backwards. But if we look at it through Marquez's eyes, he probably doesn't see it that way. First of all, because in recent times he has had enough of being a tester, to develop a bike that has taken very few steps forward.

The multi-champion already knows that this year's Ducati works, so he will just have to focus on squeezing the full potential out of it. It should not be forgotten that this strategy is also the one chosen by Marco Bezzecchi, who for 2024 has opted to stay with the group around him - in the Mooney VR46 team - and turn down the latest version of the Desmosedici, to join Pramac, where he would have a GP24 that will finally go to Franco Morbidelli.

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