Honda has ruled out Moto2 rider Fermin Aldeguer but has opened up about the possibility of Pol Espargaro rejoining to fill the vacant MotoGP seat.
The 2024 MotoGP silly season is still very much well and truly alive! Less than 24 hours after Moto2 starlet Fermin Aldeguer (GT Trevisan Speed Up) emerged as a contender for the vacant Repsol Honda seat, Team Manager Alberto Puig has come out and emphatically denied talks have taken place but suggested that Pol Espargaro is in the mix.
“No, I don’t know where that came from. It’s 100% false. Yesterday I spoke to Aldeguer’s manager and I asked him where it came from and he didn’t know what to say,” said Puig when quizzed by Spanish broadcaster DAZN during Practice at the Malaysian GP.
Moto2 starlet Aldeguer is among a host of names linked with the Japanese brand, alongside Fabio Di Giannantonio who will leave Gresini Racing at the end of the year. It seemed the Italian was the frontrunner to take over from Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda, but Puig has now thrust a familiar face into contention.
Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) spent two seasons on the RC213V before switching back to KTM machinery for 2023. However, the #44 won’t be a full time rider with the GASGAS Tech3 team next year after they opted for an Augusto Fernandez and Pedro Acosta partnership. Espargaro is due to transition into a new role with the team, but that may be in jeopardy after Puig stated HRC’s interest: “Pol is also a real possibility.”
Later in the session, MotoGP pitlane reporter Jack Appleyard spoke to Herve Poncharal, GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 Team Principal, who said that “nothing is impossible.” “We’ve seen a lot of riders breaking their contract or doing things that we haven’t seen happen before.
“From what I know Pol has been visiting the Pierer Mobility head office… He’s been quite pleased by what he has been offered for the 2024 programme but as I said nothing is impossible. They all have the fire to go racing, but it’s the first time I heard that so I’m pretty sure Albert did talk to Pol. I’m not in Pol Espargaro’s mind. I think Pit Beirer is coming next week in Qatar and if Pol needs to do something he needs to go to Pit and see what is going on.”
Repsol Honda Team Manager Puig also ruled out a move for ex-MotoGP™ rider and current WorldSBK rider Iker Lecuona, who is stepping in for Alex Rins at LCR Honda Castrol in Malaysia, saying that he has “never been an option.”
Only three rounds remain in 2023, including the current Grand Prix in Malaysia, and time is running out for Honda to lock in a rider for next season, something which is very much on the mind of Puig: “The situation is serious, it’s serious. It’s an extreme situation and we have to have a rider for Valencia.”
[Note: The story is as per press release]