Livio Suppo will now take on the role of Team Principal with the Italian having been HRC’s marketing manager in recent years. Suppo will however have plenty of experience to draw on from his time at Ducati Corse.
Suppo was originally hired in 2010 and moved from Ducati along with Casey Stoner and he is looking forward to a new challenge with HRC:
“I’d like to thank HRC for their trust in me,” said Suppo. “I will do my best to merit my new role and hope to assist in the Team’s success. I know that we can count on two very strong riders, a formidable machine and a great international crew. Together we will all do our best to keep the Repsol Honda Team at the top of MotoGP”
The squad will also have a new Technical Director with Takeo Yokoyama replacing Sinichi Kokubu. Yokoyama has been with HRC for almost 20 years and he was quick to pay his respects to his long time mentor:
“I’ve been in the Honda family since 1996 and have learned a great deal,” commented Yokoyama. “I have spent a lot of time working closely with Dani in the past few years and also with Shinichi Kokubu, who taught me a lot. I am very grateful to Honda Racing Corporation for giving me this opportunity, I am excited for what the future holds and hope that in 2013 we can recapture the Rider’s Championship!”
Honda’s decision to move Kokubu from head of their racing team to a new role as new role as General Manager of Technology Development within HRC shows that the Japanese manufacturer is once again using racing as a means to teach their engineers lessons that can be applied to the development of their road bikes.
With Moto2 champion Marc Marquez moving up to the premier class there will be lots of attention on the Number 93 bike this season and the Spaniard admitted to being surprised by the change from the intermediate class:
“I enjoyed the atmosphere of the presentation a lot, and I was able to see that the press attention for MotoGP is light years ahead of that for Moto2,” commented Marquez. “We’ll adapt to this, little-by-little. In the end, the important thing is what happens on the track, so I can’t wait for the Malaysia tests to start.”
Marquez will bring with him a reputation as one of the fiercest riders in the paddock and one who shows no fear. His combative style has won him lots of fans in recent years but racing in MotoGP will require him to curb his tendency to get aggressive with all riders at all times. In the premier class there will be times when discretion is the better part of valour and he will be better served to hold station behind a rival instead of attempt a risky move.
Marquez will have a full test schedule before the season opening Qatar Grand Prix and the 19 year old will be very quick throughout the season but it will be interesting to see if his rookie season is marked by crashes, ala Jorge Lorenzo, or whether he will ease himself into the class like his teammate, Dani Pedrosa.
Pedrosa however is not thinking about the title at this time and he is instead focusing solely on getting the bike ready for Qatar:
“I’m starting this preseason really keen, as at the Valencia test after the last race of 2012 we had so much rain that we couldn’t do much,” said last year’s championship runner-up. “I can’t wait to get to Malaysia and have a few days to put the bike through its paces, enjoy myself and see which parts we are going to use for the opening race.”