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MotoGP Portugal GP

Marc Marquez: Honda “not a title contender” on eve of 2023 MotoGP season

As the 2023 MotoGP season gets set to begin on Friday, Marc Marquez concedes he and Honda “are not title contenders” after a tough winter testing phase.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

The 2022 season marked Honda’s second winless campaign in three years in a spell that has been dominated by bike problems and injury woes for Marquez.

Despite numerous changes over the winter in terms of personnel, with Ken Kawauchi coming from Suzuki to replace Takeo Yokoyama as technical director, Marquez ended the final pre-season test in Portugal two weeks ago claiming the RC213V is only good enough to fight for between fifth and 10th right now.

Read more: Can anyone stop "changed" Bagnaia as Ducati tightens its grip on MotoGP?

As the new campaign gets underway this weekend, Marquez says Honda is not in a position to fight for the championship just now but says “I believe” in the Japanese marque to get things right.

“In the end, we are a team and we lose together and we win together,” Marquez said on Thursday at the Algarve International Circuit.

“It’s true that the past few years have been really tough for me, have been really tough for Honda, and we are not coming from the best situation.

“For that reason, we are not title contenders today in Portimao. We need to keep working and building the project and try to be more competitive in the future.

“But my ambition is the same as 2013 [when I made my debut]. I’m here to try to fight for the top position, I will do what I have in my hands to fight for those top positions, and I believe.

“I believe in the project, I believe in Honda. The championship is very long, every day the situation can change as we saw last year with Pecco [Bagnaia].

“He started not so good, he had many problems in the pre-season but from one race to the next he started with a good level and he won many races in a row.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marquez says Honda is far behind Ducati’s level in 2023 right now, but is “even further from Pecco”, who the majority of the grid has pegged as the favourite for the championship.

“Of course, it’s obvious that Ducati right now has a really strong package, all Ducati riders, but especially Pecco is the fastest one inside that group and in grid,” he added.

“So, we are far from them, but we are even further from Pecco, who was incredibly fast in the pre-season.

“We are working on the bike to try to be better in some areas that are basically the same as last year.

“So, still in those points we need to keep investigating how to improve to get closer to the top guys.”

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On Thursday, Autosport reported that Honda will test a chassis made by German manufacturer Kalex next month at Jerez ahead of the Americas GP.

Though Honda’s collaboration with Kalex in recent months has been no secret, Marquez claimed on Thursday in Portugal that knew nothing about this new chassis.

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