Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez will stay with Honda until the end of 2020 after signing a two year extension to his current contract.
The six-time world champion is the third name to be signed up for 2019, with Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales and rookie Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia also confirmed for the premier class.
Honda’s announcement that it will retain Marquez ends speculation that KTM were set to swoop for the Spaniard to lead their fledgling MotoGP programme. Marquez started his Grand Prix career racing for the Austrian brand in the 125cc class and has retained a close relationship with their sponsor Red Bull ever since, and it is believed that the partnership was set to bust the bank to lure Marquez onto the improving RC16. Marquez has been part of the factory Repsol Honda team since moving to the premier class in 2013, winning the title every year except 2015.
“I’m excited to continue to race for Honda’s factory team in the MotoGP class,” said the 25-year-old. “I’m proud to race as a member of the Honda family, and I appreciate how Honda and the team always do their best to provide me with everything I need. I would also like to thank everyone who has given me such warm support over the years. The first two official tests went well and, with my contract renewed, I can focus on racing in the new season. I will continue to enjoy racing, share my joy with everybody and do my best to reach our shared goals.”
Yoshishige Nomura, president of the Honda Racing Corporation, added: “I am very pleased that Marc Márquez will continue to ride for our factory team. Márquez has consistently pushed himself to the limit and matured as a rider, and given Honda many titles. We were able to announce the contract renewal at such an early stage due to our mutual trust, and our common passion for racing. I am certain that we can provide an environment for him to concentrate on the final tests in Qatar this week and in the lead-up to the opening round, and that we can start the 2018 season strongly. HRC will continue its challenge with Márquez, a vital rider in the future of MotoGP. I appreciate and look forward to everyone’s continued support for the Repsol Honda Team.”
Marquez will kick off his title defence on March 18, when the 2018 MotoGP world championship kicks off under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in Qatar.