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MotoGP Catalan GP

Marini bemused by his Honda MotoGP pace in 2024 - but just how bad is it?

Luca Marini is unable to explain why he cannot improve the pace he starts a race weekend with on the Honda MotoGP bike over the rest of the event.

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

The Italian has endured a torrid switch from the VR46-run Ducati he raced last year to the factory Honda in 2024.

Marini hasn’t qualified inside the top 20 across the first five rounds, while he is the only Honda rider not to score points in 2024 – with his best grand prix result so far a 16th.

At the French Grand Prix, Marini finished last of the classified runners and was 40 seconds off the lead at the chequered flag.

Asked for his thoughts on that Le Mans race, Marini’s first comment was: “I want to be in the Mugello test as soon as possible.”

The test in reference is a private outing at Mugello following the French GP in which Honda tested, among other things, a new bike concept first tried at the post-race Jerez test which was felt by the riders as being the direction HRC needs to follow.

He went on to explain that he simply cannot build on the pace he starts a race weekend with, while praising team-mate Joan Mir for being able to make the gains that he can’t.

“For me it’s always the same problem,” Marini said at Le Mans.

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Marc Fleury

“What I don’t understand is I start Friday with a pace and I keep the same pace until Sunday, while Joan can make a very huge step in Sunday races.

“He was doing a great race, in my opinion. Unfortunately, he crashed but he made a very good race until that moment. So, we just need to understand.”

Marini is struggling with the usual RC213V problems of a lack of turning and poor acceleration, and is now looking at changing his riding style, closer to Ducati duo Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin, to get the most out of his bike.

“I’m trying to work on my style, on my position, because now you can see that Pecco and Martin can make the difference with their body,” he added. “Only those two are pushing in this way with their body below the bike and making the bike turn.

“I think this will be the key for MotoGP for the next years. Everybody is trying to make this change, and I am working on it. But every lap I’m pushing at 100%.”

Comparing Marini’s 2023 and 2024 results after five rounds

Marini has gone from having the best bike on the grid in the Ducati (albeit the 2022-spec) last year to the worst this year in the Honda.

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

After the first five rounds in 2023 (Portugal, Argentina, America, Spain, France), Marini’s grand prix results were as follows:

Round 1 – DNF
Round 2 – 8th
Round 3 – 2nd
Round 4 – 6th
Round 5 – DNF

Marini had made the front row twice in qualifying inside the first five rounds of 2023, starting third in both – while from the French GP to the Dutch GP, he qualified on the front row for all.

The furthest from the win he was in those first five rounds of 2023 was 13.6s, in wet conditions in Argentina.

After the first five rounds of 2024 on the Honda (Qatar, Portugal, America, Spain, France), Marini’s results are:

Round 1 – 20th
Round 2 – 17th
Round 3 – 16th
Round 4 – 17th
Round 5 – 16th

His best qualifying so far in 2024 is 21st, which he has achieved twice, while in the rest he started from 22nd. Only at the Spanish GP was 22nd not last on the grid owing to three wildcard starters.

The closest to the win Marini has been so far in 2024 was 33.529s in Portugal, where he finished last of the classified runners in 17th.

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

His average gap to the winner in a grand prix in 2024 is 40.009s compared to 18.457s in 2023 after five rounds (though two DNFs and the wet race in Argentina muddies this sample, so it’s not representative of his actual pace at the start of last year).

Averaging zero points-per-round so far in 2024, in 2023 Marini’s point-per-round at this part of the season (sprint and grand prix) was 11 PPR (rounded up from 10.8).

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