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Honda: Marini "was first guy to approach us" to replace Marquez for MotoGP 2024

Repsol Honda team boss Alberto Puig says Luca Marini "was the first guy" to approach HRC about replacing Marc Marquez for the 2024 MotoGP season.

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

Honda announced on the Monday after the 2023 season ended that it had signed Marini from VR46 – with whom he already had a 2024 contract in place - on a two-year deal to replace Gresini-bound Marquez.

It ended weeks of speculation as to who would get the seat, with Miguel Oliveira initially its favoured option before it ultimately settled on Marini after numerous names appeared as potential replacements.

Marini being given a two-year deal breaks with Honda's initial approach of only offering a one-year contract, something that kept Oliveira at the Aprilia satellite team to be taken over by Trackhouse Racing in 2024 following RNF's collapse.

Speaking after the announcement, Puig told motogp.com that Marini was the first rider to enquire about joining Honda when Marquez's exit was confirmed.

"Well, he was the first guy and his group who approached us when the news of Marc [leaving] went out," Puig said.

"So, we were approached from them and it sounded interesting. Honestly, there were not so many options because the riders were all more or less settled in their own teams.

"He had the possibility to do it, so we were thinking and his progression has been good in the last years. We studied his progression and finally decided he would be a good option."

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Luca Marini, Repsol Honda Team

Marini's experience of the Ducati proved an appealing factor for Honda as it looks to engineer its way back to the front of the grid, having finished last in the constructors' table in 2023.

"Our priority at this moment is to create the correct development for our bike," he added.

"We are far from where we have to be. And this is our priority, to make a clear step in the development of our bikes for next season and beyond.

"For that, we are trying to make a new team, a new structure, a new organisation that will help the development be faster, quicker and in the correct direction.

"Regarding riders, as I said before, we didn't have many options due to the circumstances with all riders on contracts, we thought with Luca with his experience and other years on other bikes we could get a good profit from this.

"We have to make development on our bike and we had to bring a guy with experience on another bike. This is the best we could do."

Puig says Honda is implementing a new structure "from the base" to help overturn its form, which includes a recruitment drive.

"We are trying to restructure the team, but from the base," he said. "From the base foundation of the team means [in] Japan and also the core of the team in Europe. So, the important thing is to change the system.

"For that, we are trying to recruit new people in the next following months and years, because we believe we can get good experience.

"There is also very good technology in Europe and we are now trying to implement and use it inside our team."

He also confirmed that Marini will not bring anyone with him from VR46 and will inherit Joan Mir's crew, who has taken over Marc Marquez's former team.

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