The factory Honda MotoGP team has unwrapped its 2021 challenger at event with new rider Pol Espargaro and six-time world champion Marc Marquez.
HRC’s factory launch event signalled Marquez’s first public appearance in Repsol colours since aborting his comeback from a broken arm during last July’s Andalusian Grand Prix.
Marquez will be joined by 2013 Moto2 world champion Espargaro, who joins from a four-year stint with KTM and marks HRC’s third different factory team rider in as many years.
Honda reported two weeks ago that Marquez’s arm is finally starting to show signs of healing following a third operation on it in December.
Marquez’s slow recovery time following a second operation in August – caused by an undiagnosed infection in his arm – ultimately ruled him out of the entire 2020 season.
Despite his recovery moving in the right direction, Marquez is unlikely to be present at next month’s Qatar tests and races.
In his absence, Honda registered its first winless MotoGP campaign since it returned to the premier class full-time in 1982.
HRC still managed two podium finishes, courtesy of Alex Marquez, who scored back-to-back second-place finishes in France and the first Aragon race.
Honda test rider Stefan Bradl rode in place of Marquez from the Czech GP onwards, managing a best result of seventh at the season finale in Portugal.
Despite speculation linking ex-Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso to a return to Honda in place of Marquez while he continues his recovery, Bradl is likely to deputise for Marquez again if necessary.
Alex Marquez has been moved to the LCR squad for 2021 after penning a new two-year Honda deal, with the team unveiling his and Takaaki Nakagami’s new liveries last week.
Pramac will be the next team to launch its 2021 season on Thursday, with Valentino Rossi making his first appearance as a Petronas SRT rider at its presentation on March 1.
Reigning world champion outfit Suzuki will launch its season on the opening day of pre-season testing on 6 March, while Aprilia is yet to confirm its launch plans.