The Repsol Honda Team Manager debriefs a “very positive” weekend in Austin as question marks about Honda’s potential begin to fade
Thanks to the brilliance of Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) in Austin, a Honda rider stood on the top step of a MotoGP™ podium for the first time since the 2021 Emilia-Romagna GP. It was also LCR’s first win since Cal Crutchlow won the 2018 Argentina GP.
Reflecting on the weekend at the Circuit of The Americas, Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig admitted it was a “very positive” weekend for the factory, while Rins’ win proved that Honda’s 2023 RC213V has some good potential within it after a few months of some questioning the Japanese manufacturer’s speed.
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“If we look at the end result of the weekend and we have to make a judgement, it is undeniably a very positive weekend. A Honda bike won the GP, this is the objective we set out with each weekend. For the past few months, our potential has been questioned but today we proved that our bike has some good potential within it,” said Puig in his post-GP blog.
“We appreciate a lot Alex Rins’ efforts during the GP, his riding, his focus and his performance were what was needed. He showed that he is clearly a very fast rider, and we have to also take note and be pleased with the progress and evolution of the bike that we have had in a few races.”
While Rins soared to victory, Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) found the going a little bit tougher upon his return from his Argentina GP crash. Puig confirms the 2020 World Champion still needs to put the final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together, but the signs are there that Mir will soon unleash his potential on the Honda.
“It is true that Joan has a lot more potential. He must continue to improve his relationship with the bike and deepen his understanding, week by week he is making this progress. It has been complicated with some falls, but we as HRC believe his potential is at least the same as Rins because they have been racing together in the same team for many years and you can see the results they had together,” commented Puig.
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“Sooner or later, Joan will find the last thing he needs to really understand the bike. He is working a lot with his position of the bike and made a step in America with it.”
Rins’ victory was timely for HRC. Their start to 2023 has been tough after Marc Marquez’s (Repsol Honda Team) Portimao crash and a subsequent hand injury that has seen him miss the Argentina and Americas GPs. On that note, Puig confirms the eight-time World Champion is progressing well in his recovery and will have another check-up ahead of the Spanish GP.
“Marc continues to follow the plan set out by his doctors and is progressing. He will have another check before the Spanish GP to confirm the situation with the bone in his hand. From that point we will understand fully how his recovery is going. Certainly, this weekend’s results will have pleased him, we still have to improve the bike but there is potential.”
There’s no doubt Marquez, Mir and the entire HRC factory will have been buoyed by Rins’ COTA victory. Honda will be hoping they have Marquez back in the stable in Jerez, and they’ll also be eager that COTA can act as a springboard for the rest of the 2023 season with Rins now P3 in the World Championship.