Marc Marquez ‘worried’ about Honda performance and rivals’ gains

Marc Marquez says he is more concerned about the development of his Honda than his physical condition after the first MotoGP test

Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda

Having come into the first official MotoGP test concerned about his physical condition following surgery, Marc Marquez has come away admitting Honda has some work to do to counter the challenge posed by Yamaha and Suzuki.

After three days of restricted running as Marquez builds up strength in his shoulder, the Spaniard’s fastest lap time placed him 13th on the combined timesheets, albeit only four tenths slower than pace setter Fabio Quartararo.

Indeed, it wasn’t a seamless test for Marquez after more than one tumble with the six-time MotoGP World Champion expressing his concern about the direction of the Honda RC213V’s development compared with the gains shown by Maverick Vinales on the Yamaha and Alex Rins on the Suzuki.

“I am more worried about the technical side," he told reporters. "The things we tried, it’s not clear. Some were a little bit better but we need to keep pushing. The answer about the technical side is all about the opponents. If they improve a lot then we need to keep working. It looks like Suzuki and Yamaha have improved a lot."

Though it was Quartararo that dominated the timesheets in terms of single lap pace, it was Vinales and Rins that were identified by leading contenders as the riders demonstrating the most convincing race simulation performance.

"If you check the pace everyone is running in the '59s,” he continued. “But Rins did a really good job. Viñales, too, on the race pace. Rins and Viñales are the two fastest ones. I don’t feel very, very far [away] in ten laps. [But] now I’m not ready to finish those 20 laps.

"Basically I have the same [front end] feeling like last year. It’s there where we’re trying to work. We’re trying to analyse the problem and see if it’s coming from the chassis or the engine.

"It’s there where we need to keep working, keep analysing all the things. I believe what I said last year, that in the engine side we are missing something there.

Marc Marquez, Honda on the back foot?

This was always going to be a difficult test for Marquez as he gathers strength in his shoulder following surgery in Nove ber. An injury such as that should have left him out of action until the start of the season, but with rivals putting in the hours to unseat the Spaniard this year, there was no question he’d be out on the bike in Malaysia.

Though the individual lap times weren’t far from the top – even if he was mid-field in terms of position – Marquez didn’t have the fitness to compare with his biggest rivals over a race stint.

As such, it’s believable that come Qatar Marquez’s race pace will be back to its blistering best but the man himself admits the gains made by the likes of Yamaha and Suzuki show they have gone the right way with the development. Honda, on the other hand, appeared to have a much tougher time ahead of it to be ready for round one.

It didn’t help that only Cal Crutchlow could take on the lion’s share of the development work with Alex Marquez still getting up to speed ahead of his rookie season and Takaaki Nakagami – riding the 2019 bike – still recovering from his own shoulder injury.

The next Sepang test could prove very crucial for Honda and for Marquez.