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MotoGP Indian GP

Honda’s India MotoGP pace “unexpected” but ‘not real’

Despite both factory Honda riders making it directly into Q2 for the first time in MotoGP 2023 at the Indian Grand Prix, Joan Mir believes its pace is ‘not real’.

Joan Mir, Repsol Honda Team

Honda has endured a miserable 2023 season, with Mir yet to score any more points since the opening grand prix of the season in Portugal back in March.

As MotoGP made its debut on the Buddh International Circuit on Friday, the RC213V proved to be competitive in the hands of Marc Marquez and Mir, who were fourth and 10th overall having also both been inside the top 10 in FP1.

Mir, who felt the weekend would be a “struggle” as Honda hadn’t brought the 2024 chassis it tested at Misano and that he felt better on, admitted Friday was “mentally very good” for him.

But he cautioned that the pace demonstrated by Honda was “not real”, as everyone is still getting used to the new circuit.

“Well, I think… I was speaking before, that I don’t think this is quite real, let’s say, because it’s a new track,” Mir said.

“I think in this type of situation you can make the difference a bit more in terms of riding style.

“The other bikes, us also, still have room for improvement in this track. Like in Misano, it’s more difficult to get that extra tenth.

“I think here [in India] there’s more margin for everyone.

“Plus, I’m enjoying the track plus we were working quite well today. I think that test in Misano was quite helpful for me and the team.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Srinivasa Krishnan

To cope with the higher temperatures, Michelin has brought its stiffer rear tyre carcass to India.

When this was used in Austria, Mir crashed out of the grand prix and could only qualify 16th, while Marquez was 18th on the grid and was 12th in the GP.

Mir noted that Honda’s pace on this tyre was “unexpected”, but that everyone is struggling, thus minimising Honda’s usual disadvantage.

Marquez was also surprised by the performance the Honda had on the rear tyre, but concedes he still “losing a lot” on corner-exit.

“This was my main surprise because the hardest carcass doesn’t work very well with our bike, and especially for my riding style,” he added.

“Because for my riding style I’m going in super-fast and [relying on] support on the rear.

“And when I have a harder casing, I cannot stop the bike with both wheels because the rear has less grip.

“I’m happy and surprised I was able to perform today, because I adapted my riding style doing the opposite way to what I feel.

“But it’s true we are losing in many areas, exit of last corner, in the exit points we are losing a lot, we are braking very late and it’s not the way to ride 21 laps.”

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Marquez also observed that some of his and Mir’s pace at the Buddh track was simply down to top riders being able to make the difference more on a new circuit.

“In the end it’s the same bike, but for me Joan is a super talented rider and when you arrive in new circuits, the talented riders can make the difference,” he said.

“And this morning especially we were very competitive, this afternoon we were further back, we did the lap behind [Marco] Bezzecchi because with the Honda if you don’t follow somebody it’s very difficult to make the lap time, and we are both in Q2.

“But if you check also, [Fabio] Quartararo went in [to Q2]. So, when you arrive to a new circuit the talented riders are going in an easy way to the limit.”

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