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Cecchinello: Honda thought about withdrawing from MotoGP

LCR Team Principal Lucio Cecchinello talks about the situation at Honda and praises the decision to continue investing in MotoGP instead of withdrawing

For years, the once successful MotoGP manufacturer Honda has been struggling to catch up. After celebrating a total of six titles with Marc Marquez between 2013 and 2019, his serious arm injury at the start of the 2020 season marked a turning point – not only for the rider, but also for the team

Honda lost its way in development and fell further and further behind the increasingly strong competition. At the end of the last racing year, Marquez also pulled out and switched to Gresini-Ducati.

At this point, Honda had already begun to work on restructuring in the background and to learn something from the working methods and mentality of the now more successful European manufacturers in the field.

Honda faced with a decision: Stay or go?

Lucio Cecchinello, whose LCR team has been riding Honda bikes since entering MotoGP in 2008, knows what a crossroads the Japanese brand was at.

“Last year, Honda reached a point where they had to make a decision due to the bike’s lack of competitiveness: either invest more in the MotoGP project or pull out”,

“Honda decided to stay because the DNA of the company comes from motorcycles, even if they are now building rockets for space,” the LCR team boss continues, expressing his satisfaction with the direction that the Tokyo-based company’s top management has recently taken.

“What I see this year is that a lot more Honda people are involved. The board is determined to restore the competitiveness of the MotoGP project. “

Honda is also repositioning itself in terms of personnel for 2024

“This starts with a greater willingness to provide financial resources,” says Cecchinello. And it also means that a lot has changed in terms of personnel. For example, technical director Takeo Yokoyama was replaced by Ken Kawauchi from Suzuki just over a year ago.

At the last Japanese Grand Prix, Shinichi Kokubu, the head of the MotoGP project, was replaced by Shin Sato. And the next to go is General Manager Tetsuhiro Kuwata, who will hand over his post to Taichi Honda in April

Despite the departure of Marquez, the team seems determined to move from last place in the manufacturers’ table back to where it should be. And its strategy consists to a large extent of working hand in hand with LCR to achieve this goal.

Cecchinello is already seeing more efficient ways of working

“This year, Honda has changed its approach to motorcycle development,” says Cecchinello. “Previously, the initial analysis was carried out by the test team, who then passed the parts on to the factory team, who in turn assessed whether they were good or not. Only then did they come to us as soon as they were available.”

“Now the test team does its analysis and the parts are distributed to the four regular riders at the same time. HRC receives the results and data from all four riders at the same time. This is a much more efficient system,” praises the LCR team boss.

His garage with Johann Zarco and Takaaki Nakagami was therefore in constant communication with that of the factory team during the MotoGP tests in Sepang and Qatar.

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