2020 was a difficult and strange year, especially at the track. What did the unique circumstances teach you and your team?

“Basically, it was a difficult year because after Marc’s injury it was a strange situation because we had never been in MotoGP in that kind of situation with Marc and of course after that Stefan came to replace Marc. In the beginning it was strange because he is the test rider, and we were thinking it was only for three races but race by race we saw that Marc was not coming and then at the end Stefan did all the season. Of course, for him it was difficult because it’s not easy to combine being a test rider and a GP rider and of course at the beginning for him it was hard because he did not have the race speed but step by step and race by race, he understood how to ride the bike and understood the races and the team and Honda worked very well to try things for the future and to improve in the races with Stefan. In the end I think it was a great job by the team and by Stefan because at the end he made a very good result, he was fighting for the top ten and for us it was very important.”

What does it mean to work in the Repsol Honda Team?

“Like I have said many times, for me when I was young, I was following the races and always the Honda team has been like the best team in MotoGP. It’s a dream to work together with Honda and when I started to work with them, I was so happy and proud to work with them. I want to say thanks for what they have done last year, it was a difficult situation with Covid, and they respected us and helped us with all the aspects we could hope for. I want to say thanks because not many teams or even factories or companies are able to do that, and Honda are working very hard to give us the good things and maintain the calmness in these situations. For this I want to say thanks because in these hard situations they do a very good job.”

What will the approach of the team be with Marc not at the Qatar Test?

“For the team and for HRC there’s no change. Of course, we want Marc to come back as soon as possible because this is our target and our rider. But we are happy to have Stefan because last year he did a great job and now what we want to do with Stefan and Honda is to try and understand the new things we have this season, try to set up as much as we can to be ready for Marc when he comes back to give him all the best to get good results. But the most important is to try the things to be ready for when Marc comes back.”

Does your approach to the new season change with marc not having raced for one year?

“The approach for this season is a little bit different to the past because with one year without riding for Marc with his injury, first of all we have to check how Marc is feeling physically and of course how he will get the new feeling with the bike – this is the most important. But when you are working with a rider like Marc, always you have to think to try to fight for the title. But of course, it’s a little bit different but in my mentality, I hope, not I hope, I think, also Marc by himself will also think about the title.”

What goes in to preparing for a season competing in the MotoGP World Championship, how do you prepare yourself and your team?

“For the team and for me, the situation does not change so much because at the end we have to be ready for the start of the season. Anyway, Marc is in a different situation to the past but for the team and for Honda there’s no change. We are working to improve on last year, the areas are similar with Stefan as with Marc in the past. For us there’s not so much change, of course you are thinking when will Marc come back but for our job it doesn’t change a lot. We have to be ready for when Marc comes and try to do our best.”

Santi Hernandez Interview