Alberto Puig Appointed Repsol Honda Team Manager

After the departure of both Shuhei Nakamoto and Livio Suppo from HRC and the Repsol Honda team, Honda have announced that they will be making Alberto Puig Team Manager of the Repsol Honda team. 

The appointment of Puig did not come as a surprise. Puig has a long and storied history with Honda, having raced for them in 500GPs, then moving on to a variety of management roles associated with Honda. Puig was instrumental in the Movistar Cup, the series from which a vast array of talent came, including Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Toni Elias, and much more. He went on to become Dani Pedrosa's personal manager, before moving on to run the Honda Asia Talent Cup and work with the British Talent Team in recent seasons. 

But this appointment also marks a break with recent history. Alberto Puig is a very different character to Livio Suppo, who he nominally replaces. Suppo approached the role of team management very much from a marketing perspective. Puig is much more of an ex-racer, and is much closer to the Japanese engineers than to the marketing and media side of the operation.

Though Puig's ability to manage a team is beyond question, he faces some unique and severe challenges in managing this specific team, the Repsol Honda team. Puig is a no-nonsense character who can be abrasive, and he already has a problematic relationship with the two riders in the Repsol Honda team.

Though he was Dani Pedrosa's manager for a long time, he spent last season criticizing the Spaniard in his role as an expert commentator for Spanish broadcaster Movistar. Puig criticized Pedrosa's approach and attitude, and may have a few fences to mend on that side of the garage.

But Puig's relationship with Marc Marquez' side of the garage is even more troubled. Puig has long regarded Marquez' personal manager Emilio Alzamora as a rival, and having the two in the same garage when Puig still managed Dani Pedrosa was a major challenge for HRC. Both Puig and Alzamora were more concerned with preventing the other side of the garage from seeing their respective riders' data than with cooperating towards a common goal.

Tensions came to a head after the Australian Grand Prix in 2013, when Marc Marquez was disqualified for not making a compulsory pit stop. That failure was an indirect result of the lack of communication within the Repsol Honda team, with Alzamora wanting to keep Puig away from Marquez, and Alzamora also distrusting Livio Suppo and then chief mechanic Cristian Gabarrini, all of whom he regarded as holdovers from the Casey Stoner era forced on them by Honda and Suppo.

Alzamora won that particular battle. The following year, the remnants of Stoner's crew were forced out of the Repsol Honda team, and Marquez was reunited with his full former Moto2 team. Alberto Puig had stopped managing Dani Pedrosa, and moved on to other projects with Honda, but the tension between the two remained, as Alzamora was also managing the Estrella Galicia Moto3 team, and excluded Puig from involvement.

Puig has also had his moments in the past with the Repsol Honda team. As Dani Pedrosa's manager, he was severely critical of Nicky Hayden when the American was Pedrosa's Repsol Honda teammate. There were frictions during Hayden's 2006 championship year, but they came to a head in 2008, shortly before Hayden left, with Puig claiming Hayden "could not set up a bike", while Hayden hit back in typically polite and measured style, asserting that Puig "basically runs our team, he runs HRC".

With that history behind him, Puig is being thrown straight into the deep end. His first order of business as Repsol Honda team manager will be to negotiate new contracts with Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. The long-standing enmity between Puig and Alzamora will complicate negotiations with Marc Marquez, though Marquez has repeatedly stated he is very happy with Honda, and has no intention of leaving.

Whether Puig will be keen to keep Pedrosa on after spending so much of 2017 criticizing is also open to question. But finding a replacement for Pedrosa could be tricky, as Marquez is perfectly happy with Pedrosa as a teammate, and he - and especially Alzamora - could view any replacement as a potential threat, especially given Puig's stellar reputation for nurturing new talent.

With the appointment of Puig, HRC have brought in a superbly competent and proven manager. But they have also set themselves some interesting challenges along the way. 

Below is the press release from HRC announcing Alberto Puig as Repsol Honda Team Manager.


Honda Racing Corporation announce Alberto Puig as Team Manager of the Repsol Honda Team

Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce that Alberto Puig has been appointed as the new Team Manager at the Repsol Honda Team, beginning with the first MotoGP test of the year, at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, 28-30 January.

Following a racing career that included a 500cc race win and a lengthy stint aboard Hondas, Puig established himself as one of the most respected managers in the motorcycling field. As HRC Advisor, his most recent role has been as Director of the Asia Talent Cup and British Talent Cup.

In his new position as Team Manager for the Repsol Honda Team, Puig will report directly to HRC Director-General Manager Race Operations, Management Division Tetsuhiro Kuwata. He and Technical Manager Takeo Yokoyama will be responsible for racing operations.

Tetsuhiro Kuwata
HRC Director - General Manager Race Operations Management Division

“We are happy for Alberto to assume a new role as Team Manager for the Repsol Honda Team. Alberto has already been a part of the HRC family for many years, first as a rider and then as an Advisor, ultimately managing the Asia Talent Cup, where he helped promising young riders to develop into the sport. We believe his skills and great expertise at the highest levels of international motorcycle racing, together with his long and successful relationship with HRC, will give a precious contribution to the Company and the Team, which is aiming to once again fight at the top of the MotoGP Championship. We give Alberto a warm ‘welcome aboard’ and wish him good luck in his work!”

Alberto Puig
Repsol Honda Team - Team Manager

“I’m very grateful to HRC for this opportunity they have given me with the Repsol Honda Team. I’ve been with Honda for the last 25 years of my professional career, first as a rider, then as a team manager in the smaller classes, and lately as a coach for many of the Asian riders Honda have around the world. To have the chance to be in this position in one of the most successful teams in the MotoGP championship is a very big honour for me, so I can only focus on giving my best back to Honda and on trying to help them to achieve their goals. I’m sure our riders will be ready when the time comes, and we as a team will also be ready to once again fight for the title, with humility but also with great determination.”

Back to top

Comments

Honestly, i don't see how this could be a good decision despite all Puig's qualities. 

I mean... Marquez and Honda are dominating the field ,the whole team is number one. Dani is fast enough and discreete enough to be the perfect number 2 in the team  and it seems they are improving the bike to make it better and more suitable for all riders. Looks like the perfect plan .. at least from my sofa. 

And then Honda choose a boss who's a potential disturbance for both riders and their team. I can't believe it.

why ? what is Honda's strategy behind this ? 

Does Honda want to take a stronger control on the team and show Alzamora/Marquez who's the real boss ? Does the fact Puig worked for the Asian talent cup means Honda wants to promote more asian riders ?  

 

Total votes: 97

Seems Honda is in search of bigger challenges. Could result in an entertaining 2018.

Total votes: 13

When Pedrosa finally parted with Puig he also ended a semi forced adolescence with a very mixed paternal relationship. And flourished - that was followed by a really great blossoming.

Professionally Puig has offerred much in talent development - again, paternal. But he is a father one is wise to individuate from. And he responds acridly.

Personally this is a bad fit. Professionally it is mixed.

Suppo was really effective. And a good guy. Hard to replace. These things will never be said about Puig. When we had to see his face on TV every time Pedrosa was involved in a pass, all I could do was grimace and notice the cold sores on his mouth.

Congratulations Yamaha!

Total votes: 30

Or big cat amongst the cats. THIS is going to be interesting!

If it were were April 1st I would think this were a joke. Honda are setting themselves up for trouble, it's plain to see.

Total votes: 28

Akk.  What an unlikeable fellow they have picked.  I hope there is a lot of publicly-seen friction in the HRC team this coming season, and that it prompts MM93 to leave Honda.

That accurately sums up my feelings about Alberto Puig.

Total votes: 23

IMO:

Puig may piss Marc off, but Honda will show Puig the door before MM93 goes anywhere.

Honda knows which side the bread is buttered on, MM93 can get them 5 more championships at least.

Puig will get zero championships due to his input, he may get lucky and be standing in the Honda box when it happens.

Total votes: 23

This seems like a fantastic coup for our favorite Grimacing Spaniard!  Ousting Livio and Naka could not have been an easy task.  The real question is, "What's the story behind the story?"; HOW did Darth Puig do the deed?  I got the distinct impression than he was "shown the door" when he was exiled from the team.  One can surmise that Alberto has spent the last few years playing politics within HRC, accumulating influence, and perhaps acquiring a few photos of dignified Japanese execuitives engaged in unspeakable activities.  blush

Total votes: 33

Perhaps this will be good for silly season RUMORS at least. I can see the headlines now "Marquez says it's Puig or me!"

haha maybe not but Yamaha used Pedrosa last year to force Vinales' hand. Maybe we'll see more shenanigans like that haha

Total votes: 25

Other than his alleged ability for talent spotting I can't see what Puig brings to this relationship. Everyone seems to regard him as a disruptive character. Dani totally changed once Puig left him alone and became a much more approachable and affable person.
I agree with all the comments made so far!!

Total votes: 31

Pretty obvious Repsol are looking for someone with an actual idea of the racing aspect to nurture Pedrosa's (and possibly Marc's) replacement.

Makes sense to me, Marquez is a phenom on a racetrack but as a team leader... I don't think that's his gig.

Total votes: 13

In the past Honda, across series, have deliberatly paired up 'team mates' who despise each other in order to benefit from their mutual animosity.  Are they trying the same ploy with an entire team?  Maybe Honda thought the garage had got too comfortable?  This is going to be very interesting to watch.

Total votes: 22

I agree with previous respondents, why would HRC appoint such a divisive, contraversial figure as Puig, a man who has previous with Marc and his people and with Danni, unless they want or anticipate the need for significant change? It could be that part of the change required is to improve communication with Japan on bike performance and development which, as David reports, wasn't the particular focus of Suppo.  Perhaps, as others have said, the team is felt by Japan to need energising, although that wasn't obvious from Honda's championship winning performance trackside last season, or that preparations need to be made for Danni and even Marc ultimately to be replaced. But does it take a character like Puig to make those changes? Or could it be that Marc, although 'perfectly happy at Honda' and having 'no intention of leaving' when last asked, has already had exploratory discussions with KTM about the possibility of signing for 2019, provided next year's bike meets certain performance criteria  Or Honda believe that these discussions have taken place (or will) and they are positioning themselves in the expectation that he will go. Or, alternatively, in case he decides to stay and they need to play hard ball in contract negotiation. Marc's going to want a King or Queen's ransom in wages to sign for 2019 and the chance to make history. Whose better able to offer that - KTM, with Red Bull's backing, or Honda? 

Total votes: 20

Handa has more money than all the manufacturers in the championship together. Honda is the largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959 and 6 biggest in car industry...

So, Marc is allready with the best team and with the biggest manufacter. From that side he doesn't need more...

Total votes: 10

But yeah, Puig is a bad news!!!

Total votes: 14

Honda like to believe they control everything. Not suprising that they feel that they can put anyone who uses disruptive tactics in their place. One thing is for sure, with Puig being their manager the Repsol Honda team aren't going to see many cheerful faces.  It is going to be one of the most dour pit garages.

Total votes: 17

It is not all that dark. I am sure that Marc and Emilio have more influence and real power than Alberto. We will see. Maybe he is just a temporary solution. I would like to see Mick Doohan on that position.

Total votes: 12

On the surface Doohan is a friendly earnest personality.

Just below? Nope. And somewhat lacking in complexity for the job.

Total votes: 12

Doohan did not look especially friendly after being pipped by Crivillé on the final lap, and was not at all happy that the organizers chose to play a version of the Spanish national anthem with all the repeats.

He does seem as if he could be as ruthless off the bike as he was on it.  Besides, does Honda really want a retread for the job?

Total votes: 27

You are right!

Total votes: 10

FYI Mick is a very successfull businessman. He owns Australia's largest private jet company plus various other companies and has extensive real estate and extensive property interests.

He is anything but dim witted. 

 

Total votes: 39