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Honda MotoGP set for new title partner in 2023

Honda’s factory MotoGP team is set for a major colour scheme change in 2023, as Repsol concludes its title partnership deal next year, Decalspotters understands.

Sources reveal to Decalspotters and Italian motorcycling website MisterHelmet that the Repsol Honda team is changing its set of colours after the Spanish oil company’s contract concludes at the end of 2022.

Decalspotters has learned that Honda are holding talks with Malaysia’s Petronas for a deal beginning in 2023, which would be 2 years after its exit from Sepang Racing Team.

Repsol has been a fixture in motorcycling racing since the ’70s, when it supported the campaign of 13-time World Champion Ángel Nieto with Derbi.

It would only be until 1995 when Repsol joined forces with Honda to create the team that would dominate the sport through the new era – winning championships with Doohan, Crivillé, Rossi, Hayden, Stoner and Márquez.

In 2019, Repsol Honda celebrated 25 years of the successful partnership between the Spanish company and the Japanese manufacturer with its last World Championship win at the hands of Marc Márquez.

The Spanish oil company has developed its current range of lubricant and fuel products through its long-lasting partnership with Honda on-track, becoming a prominent oil provider in the Iberian Peninsula and some areas in South America.

The current deal between Repsol and Honda ends at the same time in FIM Trial World Championship, where both parties have been aligned since 2004.

In October, Repsol revealed its plan to transition into becoming an energy provider company through 2050, akin to TotalEnegies (previously Total Elf) in France.

The company targets to reach a capacity of 20 GW by 2030 in an effort to accelerate the company’s intermediate decarbonization.

“The upgrade of our targets demonstrates the solid progress the company is making towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Ambition, technology, and project execution are enabling us to increase the speed at which we will achieve this target.”

Josu Jon Imaz, Repsol CEO

Aside from the electric transition, Repsol is also developing biofuels, a substance that could be used in MotoGP in the next decade.

Whether to continue as Honda’s partner until biofuels are introduced in the sport or to wait outside is another factor to take in consideration – brand image is crucial.


A new toy to play with?

Petronas announced its intention to withdraw from its association with Sepang Racing Team during the summer, after only 3 years since the MotoGP project had started.

The Malaysian oil giant has a history of being impatient with its motorcycling endeavours compared to its Formula 1 programmes – cancelling a GP prototype, exiting from World Superbike, and now withdrawing from MotoGP.

But despite recording major financial losses in 2020 and into 2021, Petronas is the key candidate for the soon-to-be vacant title spot at HRC at the moment.

Currently, Petronas is the fuel and lubricants provider for the Moto3 and Moto2 competitions – this will continue into 2022 despite the situation with SRT, Decalspotters learned.

Let’s not forget, however, that Petronas’ current marketing programme began as a support for local Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin – prior, the company had left the sport briefly after its partnership with Yamaha between 2009 and 2012.

A subpar season this year could have been the trigger for the sudden announcement from Petronas, as such, partnering with a historically successful team would benefit to bring continuity into the company’s brand image alongside its other premier partner Mercedes-AMG F1.

To negotiate a year in advance shows that Petronas is not yet giving up on MotoGP as its mainstream popularity continues to increase thanks to new media and an upcoming “Drive to Survive”-style docuseries produced by Amazon.

Furthermore, this also gives away how different company cultures operate – we’ve seen the big European oil corporations change their focus to “greener” energies whilst MENA and Asia continue to develop its fossil fuels.

Saudi Aramco signed a $50 million per season global sponsorship contract with Formula 1 last year, a competition which reigning constructors’ world champions are aligned with Malaysia’s Petronas.

Other key names in the oil sector spending big bucks in motorsport in recent memory are Indonesia’s Pertamina and Federal Oil, Thailand’s PTTOR…

Last month, Petronas was rumoured to be outbid by Saudi oil giant Aramco as Mercedes-AMG F1’s title partner into 2022. There’s a possibility that these two pieces of the puzzle could related.

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