Pol Espargaro set to leave Repsol Honda at the end of the current MotoGP campaign after allegedly being informed that his 2023 option will not be exercised.
In response to today’s rumours over Pol Espargaro’s future, Repsol Honda insists no decision has yet been made.
The Spaniard made a great start to the year as he battled for victory in Qatar – this came after a very strong pre-season where he finished fastest in Mandalika – but Espargaro has since looked closer to last year’s MotoGP performances.
Espargaro’s best result over the last five races is a ninth which came in Portimao, while team-mate Marc Marquez has been much closer to the podium, as highlighted by his fourth place finish in Jerez
Espargaro joined HRC for the start of 2021, and although there have been glimpses of the form he showed with much more regularity at KTM, consistency has been a big issue during his time with the Japanese manufacturer.
Granted, Honda are known to have a very difficult motorcycle to ride, but that’s unlikely to be of any comfort to the team as Espargaro appears more and more likely to lose his factory ride for 2023.
The former Moto2 world champion currently has a 2023 option with Honda, however, Gazzetta dello Sport are claiming it won’t be renewed and that instead Joan Mir could be joining Marquez for next season.
Although Espargaro hasn’t addressed his future, the 30 year-old recently told El Espanol that he feels a degree of ‘nervousness’ when negotiating contracts.
“All riders want to renew and continue in MotoGP because it’s our job and that’s where our livelihood comes from, just like anyone else,” added Espargaro. “When it comes time for contracts, there is a certain nervousness and mistakes are made due to anxiety.
“If there is one thing that the experience gave me, it was how to know how to manage these moments, not to rush and not feel too anxious to renew.
“It’s not because you really want to renew a contract that this becomes possible. There are a lot more things to do with your continuity than getting a good result.”
Why Mir could be the rider Honda needs…
Of course, the biggest news from last week’s one-day Jerez MotoGP test was that Suzuki looks set to exit from the world championship.
A shocking decision and one that would leave Mir and Alex Rins, two of the most in-form riders without a team for next year.
But with Mir being a world champion as recently as 2020, and already being of interest to Honda, the option to sign the Spanish rider is one that appears too good to pass up.
As mentioned above, consistency has been a big issue at Honda, not just for Espargaro but all four of its riders.
This is perhaps Mir’s biggest strength as he won a world title based on his consistent performances, while he’s also a rider who makes very little mistakes, something else Honda riders have often been plagued with.
Mir would also give Honda the chance of fighting for championships should Marquez again get injured or leave after his contract is up in 2024.
Can a MotoGP line-up of Mir and Marquez work?
Managing a team with Marquez and Mir could prove challenging, both being world champions and strong characters, although that didn’t stop HRC putting Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo together for the ill-fated 2019 ‘dream team’.
It goes without saying that a team of Marquez and Mir would be one of the best from a talent perspective, but when fighting for race wins or even a title, could Honda afford to have these two battling it out? A question we could soon get the answer to.
If Honda does sign Mir for the 2023 season then Marquez is likely to face his biggest team-mate challenge since Dani Pedrosa.