Why The First Day of 2024 MotoGP Is Honda’s Best Day of 2023
Published: 29th November 2023
After a disappointing 2023 MotoGP season, the first test day of the new season is surprisingly positive for Honda.
Even though the spotlight at the MotoGP post-season test in Valencia was on former Honda rider Marc Marquez, there were noteworthy developments beyond the Gresini Ducati box.
Honda’s camp revealed a series of new components, making it the manufacturer with the most extensive update among all five. Factory rider Joan Mir commended their efforts, stating, “I’m pretty happy.”
Mir, who refrained from pursuing lap times and focused on development work, acknowledged Honda’s progress since the underwhelming Misano test, saying, “It’s the first time they’ve brought something to a test that has worked.”
After overcoming initial doubts about participating after a Friday crash, the Spaniard completed 69 laps with a gap of about 0.8 seconds to the fastest man of the test Maverick Vinales.
“It was difficult to get the feeling back after not riding this weekend, but I quickly got used to the lap times. The bike seems to work better,” he said.
The 2024 bike, with a more modern and stretched appearance featuring interesting aerodynamic elements, was a visual departure from the previous version.
Mir highlighted the changes, saying, “It’s longer and weighs less. It’s a first step towards a competitive motorcycle. But there’s still a long way to go. However, it’s a good step, and the lap times were good.”
Regarding improvements, Mir emphasized enhanced grip and improved handling, making the motorcycle easier to ride due to its lighter weight.
However, he expressed reservations about the engine, stating, “The motor hasn’t convinced me yet. It’s one of the areas we need to improve for the Sepang test. But overall, I’m happy.”
Mir cautioned against overrating lap times due to less-than-ideal conditions and different rider programs, making meaningful comparisons challenging.
Despite a disappointing Misano test, Mir expressed confidence, noting, “It’s clear that these people know how to build motorcycles. I think it’s just a matter of time until they bring a motorcycle that really works.”
Former Marquez crew chief Santi Hernandez took charge in Mir’s garage, leading to a harmonious environment that Mir appreciated.
However, Mir was not the top Honda rider in the rankings, as newcomer Luca Marini secured a place in the top 10 and was about a tenth of a second faster.
Mir acknowledged Marini’s performance, stating, “He did well, he used fresh tires like crazy at the end of the day. But his debut was positive. I wish for a fast teammate for 2024.”