Honda is close to signing Alex Marquez to join brother Marc at the works Repsol team for the 2020 MotoGP season in place of the retiring Jorge Lorenzo, Motorsport.com has learned.
Triple MotoGP world champion Lorenzo announced on Thursday ahead of the Valencia Grand Prix he would be retiring after this weekend’s race, following a miserable season on the RC213V plagued by injury and difficulties in adapting to the bike.
Speculation has been rife since that LCR stand-in Johann Zarco – who was HRC’s first choice for this year – and teammate Cal Crutchlow were the likeliest candidates to succeed Lorenzo.
However, rumours soon circulated that reigning Moto2 champion Marquez was also in the frame, despite already agreeing a year extension with Marc VDS in the intermediate class.
Although the agreement “is not yet closed” according to Motorsport.com’s sources, the situation seems to indicate that the deal will be signed soon.
Both Honda and Marquez already openly contemplated the possibility of Alex becoming part of the MotoGP grid in 2020 in the Repsol-backed team.
“Of course, Alex is an option. You have to consider him on his own merits, not his last name,” commented Honda team manager Alberto Puig.
The elder Marquez has insisted he would not look to influence Honda’s choice in any way, but admitted he’d be partial to seeing his brother on the other Repsol Honda bike.
“I would be lying if I said that I don’t want my brother [as a teammate], but I insist that I have never forced the situation and I won’t do so now either,” he said.
“Whoever my teammate is will be compared to me. And my brother has always been compared to me.”
It is thought Alex will be placed on a one-year deal with Honda so that the manufacturer remains aligned with the other factory riders on two-year contract cycles.
It is unclear yet if a deal is signed soon whether Alex will jump onto the Honda in Tuesday’s post-race Valencia test, where he first rode the RC213V in 2014 as a gift from HRC for winning that year’s Moto3 title.
Zarco has now been linked with a return to the MotoGP grid in 2020 on a Ducati at the Avintia team – though it is not certain who this would be in place of, as both Tito Rabat and Karel Abraham have contracts in place for next year.
Johann Zarco, Team LCR Honda
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images