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Exclusive: Marc Marquez opens up on his Ducati MotoGP switch

Marc Marquez's decision to leave Honda at the end of the 2023 season to join the Gresini Ducati team has gripped MotoGP for weeks.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

The eight-time world champion announced after the Japanese GP that he would be leaving Honda with a year left on his contract, before Gresini confirmed his appointment during the Indonesian GP for 2024.

In an exclusive interview with Autosport, Marquez opens up on his emotions at leaving Honda and what he is looking for with his Ducati move.

Autosport: How have you been living these last few days now that your future for 2024 is clear?

Marc Marquez: "A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. When you have to make an important decision, until you take the step you have doubts. Even after I have taken it, I keep asking myself questions. These questions will be resolved over time, when, for example, I get on the Ducati for the first time."

AS: If you had to go through the whole process again, would you do anything differently?

MM: "No, not at all. In fact, it took a long time because in my mind I wanted to stay with Honda, but my priority at that time was the sporting aspect. That has always been the driving force of my career, above the salary and everything that goes on here."

AS: That Wednesday morning when you called Japan to say you were leaving, what reaction did you get on the other end of the phone?

MM: "They expected it. Honda was aware at all times that it was a possibility. That's the good thing about having such a trusting relationship that has been so successful, it allows you to talk things through directly at all times. I didn't hide anything and they knew the possibilities that were on the table."

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

AS: Was it easy to come to an agreement with Honda?

MM: "Our relationship was always healthy and very constructive. We exposed both points of view and we came to the conclusion that, for the good of the project, in all senses, the step that was taken was the right one."

AS: In the last few days you acknowledged that, contrary to what it might seem, you were not having a very good time. Was that bad feeling because of what you knew you were leaving Honda?

MM: "I had a bad time because it was a struggle between my head and my heart. My heart was leading me to stay at Honda because of the education I have been given at home. I try to always be grateful to those who have helped me and have been good to me. I will leave many people here, many sponsors who have given me a lot. But then you think about it and it is clear that a year that passes in the career of any athlete is a year that you never get back. A project may take time, but a rider's career lasts as long as it lasts."

Marquez's trepidation about leaving Honda is understandable. This was the marque who gave him his MotoGP debut in 2013, and with whom he won six world titles in seven years between 2013 and 2019. Not only that, Marquez built up a family around him in his current crew - all of whom, bar tyre technician Javi Ortiz, will remain at HRC next year.

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But the injury woes of 2020 allied to the worsening of the RC213V in recent years has seen Marquez unable to recapture that prior glory. At the same time, Ducati has emerged as the dominator of MotoGP - even a year-old Desmosedici, which he will race in 2024, is a potent weapon in the right hands.

AS: You will arrive at Gresini with only one member of the team that has been with you practically forever. To what extent do you make it a priority to reunite with them in 2025?

MM: "If I give gas I will have more possibilities of everything: to go to one place or another; to arrive with them or without. If you don't have power on the track, you don't have it outside either. Without speed there is nothing to do. Time will tell what happens, but I have had the peace of mind that they are not only a working group, they are friends. We may not be inside the same pit, but we can go to dinner together. I hope we can get together again in the future, I don't deny that I would love to. But it doesn't just depend on my will, it depends on my speed and the options that are presented to me."

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

AS: Are you prepared for the whole circus around your future to start up again in just a few months?

MM: "Staying at Honda or leaving, I was going to start the same in the first or second race of next season. That was going to come regardless of my decision. The only thing I have been looking for is my happiness on the track. I am a positive, happy guy, whose personal life is going very well and who is very happy. But I lack that illusion on the track. I have the motivation, because I fall, I get up and get back on the bike. Nobody can beat me at persisting."

AS: What has changed more, the dominant Marc from before he got injured in Jerez in 2020, or his bike?

MM: "The person has changed more than the bike. Above all, because I had a long period of many injuries and suffering. There you mature much more. And that makes you prioritise other things in life. That explains the decision I've made for next year."

AS: You have acknowledged that this period of lack of results has affected your self-confidence. Have you ever wondered what you would be able to do now, with the Honda of 2017, 2018 or 2019?

MM: "Yes, of course I have wondered. But at that time I had just won three titles in a row, I had the confidence through the roof. When you have bad moments, that confidence has to be rebuilt, which is precisely what I'm trying to do in this second part of the season. From Silverstone onwards, I kept a low profile, even though many people didn't really understand how I was approaching those races. It was what I needed at the time. Then the results started to come, I got too excited, and the crashes started to pile up again. Again it's time to take a step back. Mandalika's mistake came from not knowing how to accept that I wasn't ready to take the risk."

Marquez currently tops the crash statistics for the 2023 season at 25, despite having missed three full rounds and withdrawn from two others grands prix Sundays. The nadir came at his beloved Sachsenring, when he fell fives time in one weekend and elected to pull out of the German GP.

The more cautious approach he has taken to limit these falls has forced him to ride within the limits of the RC213V, which has led to lowly results, with the Spaniard scoring just one grand prix podium this season at a wet Japanese GP. Moving to Ducati is a chance for Marquez to regain his confidence and be able to push in the way he is famous for.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team crash

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team crash

AS: This new way of approaching the weekends, limiting the risks, do you think it will be with you forever or is it a temporary approach, as a result of the complicity of your current bike?

MM: "It's a chain. When you go fast, you gain confidence, and then you can go even faster. And that's what happened to me in Mandalika. I crashed in qualifying, which is when you have to push, when I was on my personal fastest lap. I crashed again on the first lap of the sprint, which is also when you have to push. And in the race I didn't crash while pushing, but because I was no longer confident."

AS: On paper, next year you will have a bike from this year. Given your circumstances, is that good or bad?

MM: "On the one hand, the responsibility is less. But that is a responsibility that I always liked, and I have digested it very well. I have always accepted that role of trying to lead the project. Until 2020 I had done it. Then I got injured and was practically two years out, and when I came back, in 2022, I already said that that bike had taken a totally opposite direction to my riding style. That I could adapt? Yes. Next year I'll just stick to being a MotoGP rider and riding as fast as I can, which is what I know how to do. After that, obviously I will try to get that Ducati to my liking with the tools I have at my disposal, and in that I think Gresini will help me a lot."

AS: According to your brother, Alex, if you don't have fun again next year you are thinking of retiring?

MM: "The change I'm making is to have fun again. If I am not able to achieve it, it is no longer to retire, but I will understand many things. If that happens I will have to accept that my role has changed, but retiring does not cross my mind."

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

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