Honda brings in Marini to replace Marquez in MotoGP

rugby27 November 2023 10:53| © AFP
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Luca Marini © Getty Images

Honda announced on Monday it had signed Italian Luca Marini, the half-brother of MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, to a two-year deal with its factory team.

Marini, 26, will take over from Marc Marquez, the six-time world champion who is leaving Honda a year early to join his brother at Ducati satellite team Gresini Racing.

After making his MotoGP debut in 2021, Marini earned his first two podium finishes this season – in the United States and Qatar – as he came eighth overall riding for VR46, the Ducati satellite team owned by Rossi.

He also finished in the top three in four sprint races and twice took pole position.

Marini will get a first outing on his new Japanese bike at the post-season tests in Valencia on Tuesday.

He will pair up at Honda with 2020 world champion Joan Mir, who endured a disastrous past season in which he finished 22nd after scoring only 26 points.

Honda finished bottom of the constructors' standings this season, just as they did in 2022.

Frenchman Johann Zarco, who rode for Ducati-Pramac the past three seasons, will also join Honda in 2024 after signing a two-year deal with its LCR satellite team.

Marini's spot in the VR46 garage will be filled by compatriot Fabio Di Giannantonio, who has penned a one-year contract.

Di Giannantonio found himself without a ride for 2024 after last month's announcement that Marquez was moving to Gresini.

The 25-year-old Di Giannantonio ended the season strongly, claiming third place in Australia and then securing his first MotoGP victory in Qatar.