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Why rivals have reason to worry about the new Honda

The prolonged loss of Marc Márquez after being injured in the first grand prix of 2020 (Jerez) created a huge void in Honda, in addition to the worst drought in the history of the Japanese manufacturer (581 days without a win). As if that were not enough, the absence of someone who up to that point had accumulated six titles out of the last seven coincided with two elements that had a transcendental impact on that World Cup: the coronavirus pandemic and the introduction by Michelin of a new carcass in the rear tires.

The brand with the golden wing was tied hand and foot, without its only real argument to fight for the World Cup and very limited in the parameters of its prototype that it could develop, as a consequence of the incorporation of engine freezing agreed by the Association of Constructors (MSMA) and that it did not expire until 2022. With all these restrictions, Japanese engineers concluded, after months of analysis, that the entry on the scene of that rear casing that generated so many headaches for several manufacturers ( Ducati , for example ), called for a different motorcycle philosophy, in which the rider would focus his driving more on the rear, and less on the front.

That meant turning an equation that in previous courses had reported various titles. And in Honda, as in most organizations that compete in sporting events, they send the results. However, Márquez ‘s unquestionable numbers up to that point were no guarantee that the bike was not crying out for a major overhaul. The only thing they indicated was that the Catalan was capable of winning with her. In 2021, after his reappearance, the one from Cervera (Lleida) managed to add three wins despite being considerably diminished physically. “Do you think that if instead of three it had been five or six wins, would Honda have made this revolution?” Motorsport.com asked him last weekend at Mandalika . “No, obviously not,” replied Márquez, bluntly. “The big change in the bike comes from the lack of results. The previous years, in 2018 and 2019, the problems were also there, but I was able to win the World Cup. So, what was the point of changing? “, #93 continued.

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team , durante el test de Mandalika con la nueva RC213V

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team, during the Mandalika test with the new RC213V

Photo by: Dorna

Since making his debut in MotoGP (2013) and winning his first crown in the premier class, Márquez has been accumulating more and more weight within the Honda structure, and it is completely logical that this is the case. Until now, it was taken for granted that the RC213V was made by and for him, and given its success, that reasoning made perfect sense in the world. Even more so if we take into account the poor performance exhibited by its workshop neighbors since the departure of Dani Pedrosa, in 2018.

“I don’t agree that Honda designed its last bikes for Marc. What happened is that he had more ability than anyone to adapt to what was there. That is why it is understood that Honda, with Marc winning, did not think of a revolution like the one that has been made now”, agreed Pol Espargaró, also from Mandalika, where he left with the absolute best time. “In the last few years, the tires have changed, both in grip, in compounds and also in construction. And for that, the bike must be built from another concept. It was not a question of being fast, but of preparing for this new era”, argued the youngest of the brothers from Granollers (Barcelona).

Alberto Puig , HRC team manager, agrees with that. “Seeing where the previous bike was going, Honda thought the situation required a change. It is important to take the appearance of the rear tire construction as a reference. We have changed the concept because the data collected so advised”, highlighted the executive, in a talk held with the writer of these lines in Sepang. As to whether Márquez will be able to make the difference again despite not having had as much influence on the development of the machine, Puig is clear: “A good rider adapts to everything and finds a way to change his driving depending on what they give you. And a pilot not so good costs a little more or not or get. I have no doubt that Marc will adapt.” In fact, according to the impressions of Márquez and Espargaró, Honda’s work this winter has been exemplary, and it perfectly reflects the muscle of the most powerful company in the paddock.

Between these opinions and the records left by the stopwatch after passing through Malaysia and Indonesia, the competition has reason to be uneasy. If Fabio Quartararo was the most solvent in terms of pace, in the last three days of the preseason in Lombok, the average of all the laps places Polyccio and Márquez second and third consistently, both less than a tenth behind the Devil . The long runs of the official HRC couple, especially in Mandalika, predict that both are in a position to fight to win in Qatar, when the event starts rolling, in less than three weeks. And so do other pilots, such as Alex Rins. “The Honda is the bike that has surprised me the most. Both Pol and Marc have gone very fast, and they may be a little more prepared than the rest”, declared the Suzuki rider this Sunday.

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team, fue el piloto más rápido de la pretemporada en Indonesia

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team, was the fastest rider in the preseason in Indonesia

Photo by: Honda Racing

If we go by what we saw this winter, this new Honda is not only faster and more consistent, but also less critical – in the five days of testing, its four riders have only suffered eight crashes. That denotes that communication between the bike and the tires has been increased. But what guarantees are there that the tires will not change again?

Who is committed to it, at least in the short term, is Piero Taramasso , Michelin’s head in the championship, who sets the next shake-up for 2024, on that occasion with the introduction of a new front tire. “We [Michelin] talk to the teams regularly, and keep them up to date on our development programme. The new rear construction, for 2023, will only be a minor adjustment to the current one. It is not a revolution at all. The data, in fact, are the same”, assured the Italian to Motorsport.com. “The big change is expected for the front casing in 2024. That will be a rubber that will give more grip in support and will be less sensitive to temperature changes. In addition, it will respect the environment more”, emphasizes Taramasso, who hopes to be able to deliver the first version of this compound prototype at the end of this season. This will try to prevent the brands from reaching a situation as extreme as the one that has led Honda to have to break with its most recent past.

The photos of the Mandalika 2022 test

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Photo by: Dorna

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Priandhi Satria, circuit president, with Mike Webb, MotoGP Race Director, at the Pertamina Mandalika Circuit

Priandhi Satria, presidente del circuito, con Mike Webb, Director de Carrera de MotoGP, en el Circuito Pertamina Mandalika

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Photo by: Mandalika Prix Association (MGPA)

Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

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Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

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Photo de: MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

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Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

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Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

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Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

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Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Alex Rins, Team Suzuki MotoGP

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Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Jack Miller, Ducati Team

Jack Miller, Ducati Team

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Photo by: Dorna

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team

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Photo by: MotoGP

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team

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Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team

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Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team

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Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team

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Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaró, Repsol Honda Team

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Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

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Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

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Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

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Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

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Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia Racing Team

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Alex Marquez, Team LCR Honda

Alex Márquez, Team LCR Honda

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Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

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Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

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Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

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Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

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Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

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Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

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Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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The bike of Alex Márquez, Team LCR Honda

La moto de Alex Márquez, Team LCR Honda

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda Team

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Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

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Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

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Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

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Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

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Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

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Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

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Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

Marco Bezzecchi, Team VR46

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Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

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Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

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Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

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Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

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Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

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Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3

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Alex Marquez, Team LCR Honda

Alex Márquez, Team LCR Honda

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Alex Marquez, Team LCR Honda

Alex Márquez, Team LCR Honda

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Alex Marquez, Team LCR Honda

Alex Márquez, Team LCR Honda

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Alex Marquez, Team LCR Honda

Alex Márquez, Team LCR Honda

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