How would you describe the first Grand Prix of the season?
"It has been a very good start from a number of perspectives. First, a few months ago we didn’t know if Marc Marquez would even be able to line up here in Qatar. Second, we achieved a good podium with Pol Espargaro at the first race, which shows that what he achieved in the closing stages of 2021 is still there. He has shown this and his ability along with the performance of the bike. Espargaro was consistent over the whole weekend, and we are very happy with this result."
It is not normal to see Marc Marquez in fifth, but he is coming from a very complicated winter and Qatar has not classically been a Honda track…
"I think Marc’s tyre choice was the correct one, going with the soft. Unfortunately, he missed a bit of grip on the front and he made the decision to stop pushing to avoid any extra risks. He did a clever race honestly; he knows what is needed and he knew that in this situation taking points in fifth was the best decision. Of course, if he had a different feeling with the bike he would have attacked more – this is his character. What he achieved today is good for us, he is here with us, with a good feeling overall and is preparing for the next race. This is the longest season in MotoGP history, 21 races."
A double top five in Qatar where normally the Honda does not excel, does it show how much the bike has improved?
"Our understanding is that we had a good start, our riders are happy and we now have some points to improve after the first race with this new bike. Comparing to previous years, we can say that we are much happier as a group and it’s important that our riders are fit and we have a new bike. This bike is going to keep developing, of course, with everyone inside HRC and the Repsol Honda Team working to keep improving. The motivation is very high after this positive start to the season."
Positive and negative points?
"The positive is the return of Marc to normal racing and the confirmation of Pol, that he is a top rider and clearly a rider who can consistently be in and fight in top positions. And the negative point this weekend I will not mention."
The next race is in Indonesia. We are back racing here after 20 years. How do Honda HRC approach this special moment?
"We approach the race with high hopes after the positive test we did one month ago there. We are very happy to come back to Indonesia because it is a Honda country, a place that really supports Honda. We have a lot of fans; many people are using our machines and we hope they can enjoy a great show in Lombok."