Lucio Cecchinello, the president of the LCR Honda MotoGP team, has dismissed rumours that his team is in talks with former rider Jack Miller to replace Alex Marquez in 2023.

He only concedes that the Australian may be a contender but that the team’s first aim is to fulfil its four-year strategy with Moto2 and Moto3 world champion Marc Marquez.

Miller’s return to LCR has been predicted by some in the MotoGP paddock, as it appears increasingly likely that he will be replaced by rookie race winner Jorge Martin at the factory Ducati squad next season. Spain reported on Saturday that the Australian was in talks with LCR.

Lucio Cecchinello, the president of the LCR Honda MotoGP team, has dismissed rumours that his team is in talks with former rider Jack Miller to replace Alex Marquez in 2023.

Miller’s reputation as a former LCR rider and a 2021 double race winner may make it seem like a natural pick for the team, but any return is contingent on the team’s decision to renew the contract of the under-performing Marquez.

When asked about the speculation that Miller could be a potential target by The Race at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, team principal Cecchinello was adamant that finding a way to improve Marquez’s results before the crucial decision time in June is priority number one for both him and technical partner Honda.

“I honestly don’t know about it,” Cecchinello said of the Miller rumours.

“Honestly, we are definitely concentrating on accomplishing our targets, which was making a four-year programme with Alex Marquez, two plus two.”

“Of course, the decision to continue with Alex depends on the performance, and I don’t hide that we are under our targets.”

“I don’t want to say that that is only the fault of Alex, because our bike of last year wasn’t really competitive and Alex also changed crew chief from Repsol to LCR,” he added.

“Maybe we couldn’t make the best. This year we started with a new bike, with increased technical organisation, and we expected better results from the beginning of the season.”

“But the truth is also that we haven’t yet been able to extract all the potential from the new bike, and perhaps there is something that we need to figure out yet in terms of geometry.”

“We have a very good performance on the rear, very good grip, acceleration and drive, but for some reason now the rider complains about the lack of front feeling.”

“We need to definitely understand what is the best for Alex, and I think before we say we give up with our clear plan we want to wait for more races to see if we can make it or not.”

While he emphasises that keeping the series’ younger Marquez sibling is his first priority, he also acknowledges that his lacklustre results so far this year must improve if LCR wants to keep him.

“I would be very happy to continue because Alex is very nice, a two-time world champion and a good rider,” the LCR Honda boss continued. “If for some reason we continue to have difficulties to perform in the top 10 and making some highlights in the top five, then we will analyse the reasons and together with Honda we will take a decision.”

Marquez has been given some leeway in making his decision, thanks to a slower-than-expected start to the silly season, according to his current team boss. Only a few elite racers have confirmed their careers thus far, which means the Spaniard still has time to show himself to team and manufacturer.

“Honestly, I thought the 2023 and 2024 rider market would have started earlier, but it is a little bit calm at the moment,” he said.

“Quartararo still hasn’t decided his future, Yamaha haven’t moved, and OK Ducati is the sole manufacturer that has a direction but they haven’t made any announcement yet.”

“I believe that the market will start to move on in a couple of weeks, and perhaps by the middle or end of June it’ll be closed.”

If Marquez’s situation does not improve in the meantime, and Miller is forced out of the factory Ducati squad as expected, Cecchinello has stated that he is open to bringing back the Australian who made his MotoGP debut with the team in 2015.

“Jack is a fast rider, definitely a strong rider, and we worked quite well with him, but our full focus now is to give all the opportunities to Alex, and we don’t want to lose our focus and our mind on other solutions,” Cecchinello said.

“When we set up a plan we really want to go until the end, so my best scenario is to have two more years with Alex.”

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