The biggest bombshell to hit MotoGP in years landed in October when Marc Marquez announced an early exit from his long-term contract with Honda Racing Corporation (HRC). Just over a week later, confirmation came that Marquez would be joining Gresini Racing MotoGP in 2024.
Since entering MotoGP in 2013, Marquez has only ridden for Repsol Honda Team, achieving tremendous success on the RC213V - six world championships and innumerable category, season and individual records. But as Ducati, and to a lesser extent Aprilia, have risen to prominence, Honda has been unable to respond, at least consistently.
Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) did win the Grand Prix of the Americas in April, but that’s been Honda’s only win in 2023 at time of writing. Honda went winless in 2022 and Marquez hasn’t been on the top step of the podium since the second San Marino GP in 2021.
Marquez’s frustrations with Honda’s lack of competitiveness had already been well documented, with rumours of a split from HRC gathering momentum in recent months.
While a separation was expected, it wasn’t formalised until 4 October, when HRC issued a press release stating they and Marquez had “mutually elected to terminate their four-year contract prematurely.”. The move to Gresini Racing MotoGP, where Marc will once again share a garage with his younger brother Alex, was confirmed on 12 October.
“I’m excited with this new challenge,” Marquez said. “It wasn’t an easy decision because it’s a big change in every way. But sometimes in life, it’s important to get out of the comfort zone and put yourself through the paces to keep growing.”
Gresini Racing’s deal with Ducati means they’re on older versions of the Desmosedici GP bike (only the factory team and Pramac Racing get new machinery), so Marquez will be racing 2023-spec machinery in 2024.
“Bike-change wise, I know I will have to adapt my riding style to a few things, and it won’t be easy,” Marquez added. “But I’m also sure that the whole Team Gresini will help me a lot. I can’t wait to get to know the team and start working with them.”
While HRC initially blocked moves for Marquez to test the Desmosedici GP at the Valencia post-season test in November, they’ve since relented, meaning the Spaniard will get valuable seat time on unfamiliar machinery ahead of the 2024 pre-season test schedule.