Mick Doohan: Marquez had “no choice” but to leave Honda
By Kyle White
Saturday 28th October, 2023 - 8:35am
Five-time premier class world champion Mick Doohan believes Marc Marquez had “no choice” but to leave Honda before his contract was up.
Marquez will join his younger brother Alex at Gresini Racing in 2024 to ride a 2023-spec Ducati Desmosedici after struggling to make an impact over the past few MotoGP seasons on the factory Repsol Honda.
The Spaniard, who won his six MotoGP titles with Honda, had a contract with HRC next year but was unprepared to risk another mediocre campaign with the RC213V against the dominant Ducatis.
Aussie great Doohan has tipped Marquez to be potent on even a year-old Ducati.
“I would imagine there would be some disappointment within Honda and also some surprise in Honda’s head office because he had a contract,” he said.
“But I don’t think he had any choice really – he needed to move on and the results weren’t there, and then the frustration about the pace of development.
“For me, he’s still the most talented, right there with the best of them on the grid at the moment.
“Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the bike to show his talent but I’ve no doubt that he’ll perform well on any bike and if there’s not a big step between the ’23 bike and the ’24 bike, he’ll be competitive for sure.”
Fellow Australian Grand Prix star Casey Stoner said Marquez, now 30, simply wasn’t prepared to ‘waste another year’.
“I’m certainly not surprised, not shocked,” he said.
“It’s hard to go through a couple of tough years, especially coming back from the injury and never quite getting back on top of everyone, unsure if it’s you and the way you’re riding, or whether it’s the manufacturer and the bike you’re dealing with.
“Obviously, he knows behind the scenes how much effort Honda is going to put in, or is willing to put in to try and rectify the problems and get them back to the front.
“If it’s not happening within the next year, he doesn’t want to waste another year doing that.
“It’s the same for injuries and all the rest of it; he wants to try and get back on top and fight for those wins.”
While Marquez will be riding an older spec Ducati next year, with scope for possible updates, Stoner noted that he may well still have a competitive package.
“The last couple of years they’ve [Ducati], actually struggled to get their new bikes going – they’ve always been a step behind – so Marc is getting on a bike that at least is proven, we’ve seen a lot of riders on it, and it shouldn’t be too hard for him to adjust to it,” added the double MotoGP champion, who won titles with both Honda and Ducati.
“We know Marc’s talent, so we’re going to see if he can find those finer details, see if it suits him and the way he likes to ride.
“There’s a lot of excitement for people to see him back at the front but at the same time, we’re just going to have to wait and see how it all pans out.”