Beattie shocked by Honda, Marquez split

After winning six MotoGP championships together, Marc Marquez is leaving Honda for Gresini Racing in 2024. Image: Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool

After winning six MotoGP championships together, Marc Marquez is leaving Honda for Gresini Racing in 2024. Image: Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool

Former factory Honda rider Daryl Beattie says Marc Marquez’s split with the brand came as a “massive shock” – but shows just how much the Spaniard backs his own ability.

After years of struggling on an uncompetitive RC213V, Marquez has been granted a release from the final season of his contract with Honda to go and ride for Gresini Racing in 2024.

It is a move which takes him away from the team – and Crew Chief – with which he has won all six of his premier class championship titles to the fourth-string Ducati team on the grid.

While Jorge Martin is fighting for the 2023 world championship at Pramac Racing, he is a Ducati-contracted rider at what is virtually a second factory outfit whereas Gresini, with its year-old Desmosedicis, is a pure Independent Team operation.

Beattie, one of Network 10’s MotoGP experts for this weekend’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, once lived and worked in Japan for Honda Racing Corporation

“It’s extraordinary for me, as a past HRC rider,” he told Speedcafe of Marquez’s defection.

“I’m sure it is now but, talking from my experience then, HRC is a powerhouse.

“That sticker, or those three letters, have never been taken lightly.

“It’s an amazing factory that used to have 200 staff away from everything else to do with production or anything like that.

“It was the secret walls that produced the best and everyone knows that Honda’s the biggest in the world when it comes to powerplants.

“It’s not often you hear someone that’s going to leave Honda, but it was extraordinary for me [because] all everyone ever wants is to be on a factory Honda and especially a HRC Honda, so that was a massive shock to me.

“But, no surprise as in how confident he is in his own ability to say, ‘I can leave this outfit right now that’s not performing,’ and deep down, he probably knows that it will perform but he hasn’t got the time to wait.

Daryl Beattie (right) with Jack Miller

Daryl Beattie (right) with Jack Miller

“He obviously knew there was an out or he could negotiate an out just because of his good relationship and the results he had with them, and the guy beams confidence.

“He wants it, backs his ability, doesn’t care if it’s a satellite team.

“In recent years compared to early, early days, if you’re on a non-factory bike, you weren’t going to win grands prix.

“But, I guess that’s one of the great things about MotoGP in the past few years now, is that the satellite teams are competitive.”

Beattie sees Honda potentially returning to the summit of MotoGP, but “not without changing their ways a lot.”

He identified a need to be more flexible and more reactive, as the ascendant European manufacturers are.

“I haven’t been in touch in the walls of the factory for a long, long time since I stopped racing, but the Japanese are very different in the way they approach things,” he explained.

“I think the Europeans are more flexible, can make changes on the run, and do it quickly, whether that’s from small components to big components.

“The Japanese in general, from my experience, has been meetings upon meetings upon meetings to approve stuff, to test stuff – just purely for reliability and those sorts of things, whether it’s chassis or other stuff – and that timeframe’s too long.

“If you look at those European factories now with European staff, they’re doing stuff on the run and the Japanese – Yamaha and Honda – both need to change that way a little bit.

“Maybe not completely, because maybe a little bit of both is nice, but they’ve definitely got to change the way they’ve been doing it.

“Ducati hasn’t done this overnight – it’s been a long time happening but the Japanese manufacturers have definitely been caught.”

This weekend’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island can be seen live and free on 10 and 10 Play, Saturday from 13:00-16:00 AEDT and Sunday from 12:00-15:00 AEDT.

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